Courtesy of Southeastern Idaho Public Health 

To decrease the risk of foodborne illnesses during the upcoming summer months, Southeastern Idaho Public Health would like to remind the public to take the following precautions when enjoying a picnic or barbecue with family and friends:

COOK: Cook meat, poultry and hot dogs thoroughly. Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. For example, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry, and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on one that held the raw meat.

CHILL: Keep foods 40 degrees F or below by using and insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer packs around and on top of the food. Do not let food sit out for more than an hour on a hot day. Bacteria can multiply quickly on food left out in warm weather. Store leftovers in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen packs.

CLEAN: Wash produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running water to remove visible dirt and grime. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce out in warm weather for more than an hour. WASH: Wash your hands often. To prevent illness, wash hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, especially raw meats. If there isn’t running water at a campsite or picnic area, set up a makeshift hand-washing station using a water container with a spigot and wash with hand soap.

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department. The local public health department is an important part of the food safety system. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people. Your cooperation may be needed even if you are not ill. For additional information on food preparation and staying safe, contact Tracy McCulloch, MHE, at Southeastern Idaho Public Health at (208) 239-5250 or visit siphidaho.org or cdc.gov.