We call it Summer Stomach Syndrome — people who come in during the week with a tummy ache after a leisurely weekend barbeque … where they have gobbled food overflowing with germs.
It is the most common time of year for people to get tummy trouble — intestinal anger that could be avoided by following a few common sense rules of food preparation.
Most of them you’ve heard before, but what the heck — how about a quick review since so many of us seem to forget the basics once we fire up the grill or spread the picnic blankets?
- Keep hot foods hot & cold foods cold. Food at room or air temperature 70 degrees will begin to spoil within 2 hours. 85 degrees? You can chop that to one hour.
- Don’t use the same utensils or platter to handle uncooked … and then cooked food. Watch those raw meats and veggies, too.
- Wash your hands. Please … wash your hands. Then do it again.
- Buy a meat thermometer. Why? Because clear juices do not mean fully cooked. You need to measure.
- How hot is a thoroughly cooked piece of meat? For poultry: 165 degrees. Burgers 160 degrees. Chops: 145-160 degrees.
- When done, put leftovers in shallow containers, then ice down or refrigerate quickly.
Now are some extra meat and potatoes of what you may not know:
- Food poisoning can take 2 hours to 7 days to appear. And it can appear from either end, or both.
- Just because everyone ate the same thing … and everyone didn’t get sick does not mean the food isn’t too blame. Sometimes the germs work their way through the various areas of food and you may have just lucked out by eating a portion that hasn’t spoiled yet.
- Meat and poultry tend to be germ factories more than potato salad — that’s because the acid in the mayo delays spoilage slightly. But all can make you ill.
- People on reflux or anti-ulcer medicine are more prone to food poisoning since they have less stomach acid to kill germs.
Simple guidelines that are easy to forget. But forget to pack them for your next cookout, and you may wind up spending your week or weekend indoors — in a place you’d rather not be.