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Whether it is in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere when summer comes about it is a time to enjoy the warm weather and plan special occasions and gatherings with family and friends. During the warm summer months we see an increase in socialization and food consumption and unfortunately, food poisoning.1 While we enjoy and thrive in the warm weather unfortunately so do bacteria, which multiply rapidly in warm humid temperatures. So to enjoy the summer or holiday season here are some tips on preventing foodborne illnesses.

Suggested guidelines

In Australia the government has provided a list of 10 tips for summer food safety, which are relevant for all consumers, regardless of their location.2

  1. Set your thermostat – make sure the fridge temperature is below 5°C and keep your freezer at minus 18°C or below

  2. Get food home quickly – take chilled, frozen or hot food straight home in insulated containers

  3. Keep hot food hot – if you don’t want to cool food straight away, keep hot food at 65°C or hotter. Reheat foods thoroughly so they are steaming (above 76°C) or boiling

  4. Don’t leave hot foods to completely cool before refrigerating – put hot food in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as the steam stops rising. Cool it rapidly first by dipping the container in ice or a cold-water bath. Divide food into smaller, shallower containers so it cools more quickly in the refrigerator

  5. Keep raw meat, chicken and seafood chilled and away from cooked food - keep raw animal proteins below other foods in the refrigerator and don’t let raw animal protein juices drip into other foods. Use different cutting boards for raw and cooked food or wash and sanitize them between uses. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw animal proteins

  6. Thaw frozen food thoroughly – unless frozen food is design to be cooked from the frozen state as per the packaging directions, make sure it is thawed completely before cooking. Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator and under cold running water. Thawing in a microwave oven is only to be done as part of the cooking process.

  7. Don’t overfill your refrigerator or freezer – having enough room for air circulation inside the refrigerator and freezer is important for effective cooling.

  8. Store leftovers safely – store any leftovers in the refrigerator and eat within 2 to 3 days. If you don’t plan to eat them within this period, freeze them straight away

  9. Know when to throw away – don’t eat food that has been left out of the refrigerator or not properly cooled for more than four hours – especially meat, poultry, seafood, cooked rice and cooked pasta. When in doubt, throw it out!

  10. Avoid handling food when you’re not feeling well – if you have diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, fever or jaundice, or infectious skin conditions, avoid handling food and see a doctor if the symptoms persist

Have fun out there but be safe, handle food properly, cook, clean, separate and chill, wash and sanitize hands and surfaces because as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency states, you don’t want to spend your summer or holiday with any of the least wanted foodborne pathogens3 instead you want to spend it having fun, with family and friends.

For more info on how SGS can help increase safety and quality throughout your food business visit SGS Food Safety.

1 Health Canada Summer Food Safety
2 10 Tips for Summer Food Safety
3 Canada’s 10 Least Wanted Foodborne Pathogens

Jim Cook
Consumer Testing Services
Food Safety Technologist
SGS – North America, Inc.
t: +1 973 461 1493

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