As the warm weather and the Memorial Day weekend approaches, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein remind residents that while warm weather is a perfect time to barbecue, enjoy outdoor dining and go on picnics, it also presents opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. Temperature and time, as well as personal hygiene, are critical factors that can lead to foodborne diseases. To protect yourself, your family and friends from foodborne diseases, Nassau County Department of Health recommends the following:
• When storing or transporting food, keep the food’s temperature below 40 F. or above 140 F.
• When preparing poultry, pork or beef, make certain it is cooked until the juices run clear. The best way to check that cooked foods are safe to eat, including those foods cooked on a barbecue, is to measure their internal cooking temperature with a chef’s type of stem thermometer. Poultry should reach 165 F. on the thermometer; ground beef should reach 158 F.; pork should reach 150 F.; solid cuts of meat or fish should reach 140 F.
• Never reuse plates, utensils, cutting boards or any other item that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood for serving – unless they have been washed first in hot, soapy water.
• Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat or poultry in it. Do not reuse marinade.
• To help prevent foodborne diseases such as Hepatitis A, Salmonella, E.coli and other diseases, be aware of personal hygiene. Do not touch food which is ready to eat with bare hands. Remember to wash your hands after sneezing, coughing, using the toilet or changing diapers. And, if you are ill, do not prepare food at all.
• Refrigerate any leftovers immediately! Never leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.
For more information about warm weather dining and foodborne illness, contact Nassau County Department of Health, weekdays, 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. at (516) 227-9717.