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June 3rd, 2013

FOOD FOR TOTS ARTICLE FEATURED IN CHILDCARE TODAY PUBLICATION

Warm weather means spending time outdoors and nothing is more enjoyable than a great summer picnic or barbecue. For busy families, a day outside is a welcome and much-deserved break that’s far too important to risk having food poisoning spoil the fun. To help parents and children stay healthy this summer, here are five simple tips for keeping food summer-safe. Please feel free to share them with the families at your centre.

Food Safety Tip #1: Chill
As the outdoor weather warms up, remember never to leave food at room temperature for more than one hour. Keep all perishable food cold using an ice-packed cooler that is kept away from direct sunlight. To ensure that the cooler is holding temperature at four degrees Celsius or less, place a small thermometer inside.

Food Safety Tip #2: Separate
If barbecuing, keep all raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods. Use sealable containers or plastic bags to avoid leaks. Keep the raw meat at the
bottom of the cooler and place other foods on top to avoid having meat juices leak onto other food items.

Food Safety Tip #3: Clean
Always come prepared with hand soap (or sanitizer) and clean your hands thoroughly before and after you
have handled raw meat, poultry and seafood. This will help ensure that there is no cross contamination. Hands should be washed for a minimal of twenty seconds. Cross contamination can also occur through plates and utensils coming into contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood and then with other foods. Be sure to bring along plenty of extra plates and utensils to avoid this.

Food Safety Tip #4: Cook
Bacteria is killed by cooking, so all meats must be cooked to a safe internal temperature to eliminate the risk (see temperature guidelines below). Use a digital thermometer to ensure the meat has reached the safety zone. Always use a clean plate for cooked or ready prepared foods.

Safe internal cooking temperatures:
Beef (medium to well-done) 71 to 77° C
Pork 71° C
Poultry 74° C
Fish 70° C

Food Safety Tip #5: Leftovers
Once you have enjoyed your meal, place leftovers in a container and never leave it out at room temperature for more than one hour. Always store leftovers in a
cooler and on top of unprepared food to avoid cross contamination.

Keeping these food safety tips top of mind when planning an outdoor picnic will ensure that your food is not only delicious, but safe too! Have a safe, healthylicious and fun-filled summer!