Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Someone cooking on a grill Make sure your grilling temperatures cook food properly. Use a thermometer to determine if safe temperatures are reached for grilled foods. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot (Photo by: Scott Fenaroli, USS Carl Vinson).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summertime heat and outdoor events can put everyone at increased risk of contracting severe foodborne illness so it's more important than ever to stick to a few key safety guidelines to make sure you and your guests don't get sick.

"A simple rule of thumb is: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Melissa Amescua, a registered dietitian and nutrition program manager for the Navy's 21st Century Sailor Office in Millington, Tennessee.

"Letting these foods get outside of their allowed temperature ranges will increase the odds for one to get sick," Amescua said.

"This range is called the 'danger zone,'" she explained.

Other important tips for summer barbeques include using a food thermometer along with tongs and spatulas when you're cooking. Always try to keep ice that cools food separate from ice used for beverages. And, after outdoor summer events: Beware of any leftovers that have been sitting out.

"Researchers have found at least 250 types of foodborne illnesses that can make us sick or, even worse, put us in the hospital, and, for all people that fall into a high-risk category, it could even cause death," Amescua said.

Amescua said those at higher risk for contracting a foodborne illness include:

  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children, typically under 5 years of age
  • People who are already ill or have an illness that compromises the immune system

"In the summer months, the very hot temperatures create an environment that makes it easy for bacteria and germs to thrive," Amescua said.

Food experts point to several key resources to help reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Amescua recommends using the CDC website. There, you can view everything from the four steps to food safety -- Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill -- to tips and alerts on contaminated foods.

Michael Dombrowski, chief sanitarian for Fort Carson, Colorado's department of public health, has these tips for a safe outdoor summer cooking experience:

1. Keep things clean. Wash and rinse fresh fruits and vegetables before packing. Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils frequently with soap and water, and follow up with sanitizing sprays or wipes on food contact surfaces. Clean and rinse coolers before adding ice and products.

2. Cold food should be stored at 40 F or below, using coolers with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep coolers out of the direct sun and avoid opening the lid too often. This keeps the contents cold longer. It helps to keep beverages in a separate cooler. Everything should stay chilled until immediately before it will be cooked or consumed.

3. Do not cross-contaminate. Keep cooling ice and drinking ice separate - Don't use ice for drinking if it has been used to keep food or beverages cold. Keep raw meat/poultry/seafood in separate containers to avoid contaminating other picnic foods. Never use the same plate, cutting board, or utensils for cooked food that you used for raw food. Bacteria in the juices of raw meat and poultry can contaminate safely cooked food.

4. Remember to thaw meat and poultry slowly in the refrigerator before cooking - never at ambient temperature. Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later. A food thermometer is as important as tongs and spatulas in your equipment list. Always use a food thermometer to be sure grilled food has reached a safe internal temperature: chicken and turkey in all forms to 165 F; ground meats (other than poultry) such as burgers, and bratwursts/sausages to 160 F; and solid cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb to 145 F.

5. After cooking, keep meat and poultry at 140 F or warmer until eaten. If cooked items need to be reheated, grill them to 165 F. Refrigerate any hot or cold leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Do not keep any leftover food such as salads, meat/poultry, cut fruit, or cooked vegetables if they were left out at ambient temperature. Be sure to clean up the area before you depart, disposing of all food and trash in pest-proof containers.

Stick to these rules to ensure you have a happy, healthy summer.

You also may be interested in...

Fort Knox dietician reveals personal staples for healthy family meals, picky eaters

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Vegetables displayed at a grocery store.

Making sure everyone in the family is eating healthy can sometimes be overwhelming and oftentimes, families aren’t sure where to start.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

What is a "healthy" weight-loss eating plan, anyway?

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
A female soldier poses with an apple in her hand.

Weight loss sounds simple: take less “energy in” (fuel from food and drinks, measured in calories) and use more “energy out” (calories burned through daily physical activity and exercise).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Food Safety Month: Commissaries Join Other Agencies in Highlighting Foodborne Illness Prevention

Article Around MHS
9/13/2021
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Spc. Crystal Vice, a veterinary food inspection specialist with Public Health Activity Fort Carson, checks the expiration date on a peanut butter container Oct. 13, 2020, at the Fort Carson Commissary. Food inspectors randomly check food and other items before they’re put on the shelves for sale. (Photo by Eric E. Parris)

During Food Safety Education Month in September, DeCA joins the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety Inspection Service, the Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations in reinforcing foodborne illness awareness and prevention.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Public Health

Gearing Up: SERE Instructor Gives Tips for Hitting the Trail This Fall

Article
9/8/2021
Marines in civilian clothes hiking in mountains.

SERE instructor and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Apolo Silva talks about some of the key things to keep in mind, as well as precautions you should take, before and during heading out into the wilderness this fall.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Extreme Heat: Heat-Related Illness

Infographic
8/20/2021
Heat Related Illness: How Hot is Too Hot

Heat-related illnesses can be serious. Make sure you know how hot is too hot!

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

Stay Hydrated for Optimal Performance

Article
8/10/2021
A soldier takes a drink from his canteen.

Proper hydration is key to optimal performance.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Plan your Float: Boating Safety Tips from the Coast Guard

Article
8/2/2021
Military personnel conducting boating safety patrols

Have a “Float Plan,” the Coast Guard says, when boating recreationally.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Ask the Doc: AO2 Energy

Article
7/26/2021
AO2

Dear Doc: Me and the guys in my shop drink A LOT of caffeine. I'm not much of a coffee guy, but I do drink two or three energy drinks a day. I drink a lot of water too, and I'm young and in good shape, but sometimes I feel like I'm a little too reliant on these drinks. I sometimes short myself on sleep only because I know I can have an energy drink or two and be fine for most of the day. Is that a problem? Should I cut back? What are the impacts on my health? Are some forms of caffeine (coffee or tea, for example) better or safer than others? I'd rather focus on this while I'm young and healthy instead of keeping it up for a decade before I realize it's caused a real health problem. -AO2 Energy

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

Safety Briefs: Don't be Boring and Use Real Examples

Article
7/21/2021
Marines receiving a safety brief

Two Marines share tips on how to make routine safety briefs both interesting and engaging.

Recommended Content:

UV Protection | Extreme Heat | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summer Water Safety Means: Know your Limitations

Article
7/16/2021
Military personnel participating in a swim call

Know your swimming rules and dangers

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Extreme Heat: Safety Tips for Heat-Related Illness

Infographic
7/16/2021
Plan. Prepare. Protect. Natural Disaster Resource Guide.  Extreme Heat Safety: Increased Risk for Heat-Related Illness. Extreme heat is when temperatures are more hot or humid than normal. Heat-related health problems are preventable, but some factors put you at increased risk for illness, such as exhaustion or heat stroke. What are the risk factors? Common risk factors include: High levels of humidity, fever, alcohol use, dehydration, prescription drugs, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn. Follow these quick tips: Wear appropriate clothing, stay indoors, be careful during outdoor activities, pace yourself, wear sunscreen, don’t leave children or pets in parked cars, and avoid hot and heavy meals. FOR EMERGENCIES, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. For more extreme heat safety information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat. #BeReady #Prepare2Protect. TRICARE Logo.

Are you at higher risk for heat-related illness? Heat-related health problems are preventable, but some factors put you at increased risk for illness, such as exhaustion or heat stroke. Follow these tips.

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

Old-School Summer Safety Risks: Sun, Water, Insects and Alcohol

Article
7/15/2021
Children sitting by the pool

A preventive medicine doctor talks about an array of summer-related safety concerns.

Recommended Content:

UV Protection | Extreme Heat | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summer Safety 2021

Photo
7/15/2021
Children sitting by the pool

Summer days can be such fun, if done safely (Photo by: Tommie Horton, 78th Air Base Wing).

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | UV Protection | Extreme Heat

Summer Safety Tips

Video
7/15/2021
Infographic about Summer Safety

Recommended Content:

UV Protection | Extreme Heat | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Hydration

Infographic
7/14/2021
Stay Hydrated - Carry a water bottle, choose water over sugary drink & add fruit to water

Stay Hydrated - Carry a water bottle, choose water over sugary drink & add fruit to water

Recommended Content:

Dehydration | Summer Safety Toolkit | Summer Safety
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.