Is food borne illness more prevalent in the summer? You bet. There are a couple reasons: First of all, bacteria and microorganisms grow faster in warmer temperatures so the heat and humidity of summer months means there are more of these organisms on people, animals, soil, air and water. Second, we are outside more, and leaving the safety and control of a kitchen environment (sinks, controlled cooking and refrigeration) leaving bacteria to proliferate.
· Marinate your meat in the fridge, never on the counter.
· Thaw meat before grilling (frozen spots won’t get hot enough to kill bacteria when the rest of the meat is done).
· Wash all produce. Even if you don’t eat the peel or rind, wash it first to keep bacteria off your hands and to prevent a knife spreading it through the fruit as you cut it. Rubbing under clean running water is the best way to wash produce.
· Separate raw and cooked foods. Never let anything else touch the cutting board or knife that was used to prep the raw meat, poultry or fish.
· 165 degrees F is the magic number. Don’t undercook.
· Serve cold foods and salads on a bag of ice, keep them in a cooler and put all food back in the fridge within 2 hours.
· Prep in advance – get everything cut up, prepared and packaged before you go camping so you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination while roughing it with one cutting board.
· Keep your coolers packed with plenty of dry and regular ice.
· If you have no running water, be sure to use 2 tubs of water (one hot for soapy water, and one cold for rinsing)
· Use single-serving or squeeze bottles of condiments instead of letting everyone dip into a communal jar.
· When you get home throw out any leftovers that aren’t still cold.
And when in doubt, throw it out. It’s a lot better than throwing it up.