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Take Simple Steps to Avoid Foodborne Illnesses at Summer Outings

Amanda Dahl

COLUMBUS, Miss. – As temperatures rise, there also comes the need to store foods promptly and keep them refrigerated at a certain temperature in order to avoid food poisoning.

Amanda Dahl, interim director of the Culinary Arts Institute and instructor of nutrition at Mississippi University for Women, offers ways to enjoy summer outings.

Dahl explained that foodborne illnesses tend to increase in the summer due to increased bacteria in warmer temperatures and the difficulty of handling and preparing food outdoors.

“Bacteria thrive the most in the temper danger zone (40-140 degrees), so keep cold food below 40 degrees (in cooler or in fridge) and warm food above 140 (in chafing dishes or on grill warmer). Food should never stay in the danger zone for more than two hours, and no more than one hour when the outside temperature is above 90,” she explained.

Dahl said it is important to keep all refrigerated items in the cooler as long as possible. “Take them out for service, but return them to the cooler once finished eating, along with any other leftovers, instead of leaving them out for people to graze.”

A tip she offered to keep food cool was to freeze bottles of water and keep them in a cooler. “They’ll help to keep things in the cooler cold, but will also help keep you hydrated since they’ll stay colder longer in the hot summer sun,” she said.

Other simple steps offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included washing hands and food preparation surfaces often and avoiding cross contamination of foods.

Dahl shared one of her favorite barbecue sides, which she noted is an alternative to mayonnaise based cole slaw:

Oriental Broccoli Slaw

1 (12 ounce) package of broccoli slaw mix 1 package of Ramen noodles, broken into small pieces (discard flavor pack) 1/2 cup sunflower seeds 1 bunch green onions, sliced 1/4 cup canola oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup sugar 1-1/2 teaspons reduced sodium soy sauce Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, mix together slaw, ramen noodles, green onions and sunflower seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and salt and pepper. Toss dressing with slaw mixture until well coated. Chill for several hours or even overnight for best flavor.

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