Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Fighting Hunger: Summer tips for prepping food, cooking

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 by Shari Noctor Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative president in Opinion

As you all know, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative works with food, though we are not preparing meals right now with our current outreach programs. I have not allowed any refrigerated or freezer items to be accepted or distributed and have turned away eggs, meats, etc., that have been offered to me this spring.

Food safety is our number one priority. Time, temperature and cleanliness are extremely important for keeping people from getting food poisoning. Several WCHI board members are ServSafe certified, which is highly recommended to be a member of Second Harvest Food Bank. This certification is from the Restaurant Association and is designed for anyone who works with food or surfaces that come into contact with food. Testing for this certification is very difficult and needs to be renewed by taking the class and also retested again every three years.

As we enter into summer, I want to give you tips to be safe with your food. The following all comes from a poster provided from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services — foodsafety.gov/sites/default/files/2019-05/summer-food-safety-infographic.jpg.

While the warmer weather conditions may be ideal for outdoor picnic and barbecues, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of food-borne illnesses. Make sure your fun in the sun doesn’t get cut short by following some simple summer entertaining tips.

One in six people: This is the approximate number of Americans stricken with food poisoning each year. An estimated total of 128,000 annual hospitalizations from food-borne illnesses occur.

Did you know United States beef sales are the highest during the week of July 4 when Americans are expected to buy about $400 million worth of it (25 percent more than an average week), according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association?

Basic tips — clean, separate, cook and chill: Clean surfaces, utensils and hands with soap and water. If at a picnic, bring moist towelettes to use.

Wash all produce under plain ruining water before eating, cutting or cooking even if you plan to peel them.

Separate plates and utensils.

When grilling, use utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry and ready-to-eat food like raw vegetables.

Cook using a food thermometer. Just because your burger is brown, not pink, doesn’t mean it is safe to eat.

Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (one hour if it is above 90 degrees). If planning a picnic, perishable food should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with ice or ice packs.

What are you making: Here are some food safety tips for preparing a few signature summer dishes.

For barbecue, cook all meat and poultry to recommended internal temperatures — burgers: 160 degrees Fahrenheit; chicken and turkey: 165 degrees Fahrenheit; sausage: 160 degrees Fahrenheit; steaks: 145 degrees Fahrenheit, with a three-minute rest time.

For fruit salad, rinse all produce before peeling or chopping. Chop all produce with clean knives on cutting boards not used with raw meat to avoid cross-contamination.

For deviled eggs, refrigerate prepared eggs until they are ready to be served, and once out, keep them nestled in ice to keep them cool.

For more summer food safety tips, visit foodsafety.gov.