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IL injury lawyerOver the last couple of blog posts, we have talked about some of the ways to keep your guests from contracting foodborne illnesses during your summer cookouts. Previously, we have discussed maintaining a clean grill and proper handling procedures for meats, chicken, and seafood. While grilling is a big part of most summer cookouts, there is often a variety of other foods that help to complete a backyard meal. With several months of warm weather — and numerous opportunities for cookouts — still to go this year, it is time to talk about keeping the side dishes safe as well.

Maintaining Safe Temperatures

Most backyard barbecues are more or less buffet-style meals, especially those that involve larger numbers of guests. The most basic food safety rule for buffet-style meals is to keep foods hot if they are supposed to be hot and cold if they are supposed to be cold. Hot means above 140° F, and cold means below 40° F. The “danger zone” for food safety is between these temperatures, and food should not be left in the danger zone for longer than two hours. If the outdoor temperature is above 90° F, food should not be in the danger zone for longer than one hour. Dangerous bacteria can multiply very quickly in the danger zone.

Here are a few tips for keeping food safe:

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Posted on in Food Poisoning

IL injury lawyerIf you are the type of person who plays “fast and loose” with food safety—maybe, you are willing to eat those deviled eggs that have been sitting on the buffet table all day—there is a good chance you had to deal with food poisoning occasionally. And, you might not have even recognized your issues as food poisoning, as some cases can be much milder than others.

Most of us generally understand that improper food handling and storage temperatures can allow the pathogens that cause foodborne illness to contaminate our food. But what if someone else in your household ate contaminated food and you did not? Is it possible to contract a foodborne illness from another person? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

How Food Poisoning Can Be Spread

There are two basic ways in which food poisoning spreads from person to person. The first is through direct exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person. For example, if your spouse is suffering from a foodborne illness caused by norovirus, the virus is likely to be present in his or her vomit or diarrhea. This means you need to be extra careful as you help care for your spouse and to take all proper precautions to avoid exposure to the pathogen.

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IL injury lawyerA couple of weeks ago, we talked a little bit about how a clean grill is very important in preventing food poisoning at your summer cookouts. With Memorial Day fast approaching—the holiday that many observe as the semi-official start of summer—more and more people will be hosting barbecues and cooking out on the grill again. While a clean grill is a great start, there are other steps that you should be taking to ensure that your food is safe to eat.

Guidelines for Safe Grilling

Whether you are having dozens of people over for a party or simply preparing dinner for your family, it is critical to handle meat, chicken, and seafood properly, or you run the risk of making people very sick. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the safe handling of grilled proteins.

Separate raw proteins – Food safety begins at the grocery store. When you are shopping, be sure to grab meat or seafood last so that products can stay refrigerated longer. Then, separate them from the other items in your cart and bags. It is also a good idea to put raw meat or poultry in individual bags to prevent cross-contamination.

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IL injury lawyerThe calendar has flipped over to May, which means that outdoor grilling season is fast approaching for residents of Northern Illinois. Whether you consider yourself a beginner with a propane grill, a master of the charcoal grill, or a barbecue pit boss, there is nothing quite like meat—and veggies or other sides—that has been grilled to perfection. However, food cooked on the grill could be contaminated with dangerous bacteria if the grill is not maintained properly. Today, we will look at some simple steps you can take to ensure that your food is both delicious and safe for your family and guests to eat.

A Dirty Grill Can Harbor Illness-Causing Bacteria

Whether you use your grill just about every night or only on special occasions, it is critical to maintain and clean the grill grates on a regular basis. Whenever you cook on a grill, there are inevitably bits of food that remain stuck to the grill grates—even if you cannot see them. These food particles are likely to attract insects, birds, and other animals, which can introduce untold amounts of bacteria—and even waste—to the surface of the grill. Even without bugs or birds, the food itself can become contaminated with bacteria as the grill sits outside in the sun.

With this in mind, setting the steak for tonight’s dinner on top of the remnants of the chicken from last night could lead to your steak becoming contaminated with bacteria that could cause foodborne illnesses. In fact, food poisoning cases tend to spike in the summertime, partly due to the increase in grilling outdoors, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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IL injury lawyerJust over a week ago, families throughout the country and around the world celebrated the Christian holiday of Easter. Of course, chocolate and candy are big parts of this celebration in many, if not most, households, and many still include hard-boiled eggs as part of their traditions as well. In fact, coloring Easter eggs is a highly anticipated family event in a large number of American homes. These dyed eggs often find their way into Easter baskets and onto the buffet table on Easter Sunday, but waiting too long to eat them can lead to spoiled eggs, bacterial contamination, and foodborne illness.

Refrigeration is Key

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), hard-boiled eggs should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Temperatures between 40 and 140°F are considered the “danger zone.” At these temps, dangerous bacteria can grow and reproduce very quickly.

This means that it is not advisable to leave dyed eggs in the kids’ Easter baskets overnight, nor is it a good idea to leave hard-boiled eggs sitting on the food table all day long during the celebration. Once the eggs have been boiled, they should be allowed to come up to room temperature and then promptly refrigerated. If they are put in the refrigerator while they are still hot, the residual heat could result in other items in the fridge spoiling. The best place to store them is in the carton on an internal shelf that is not affected very much by opening and closing the refrigerator door.

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