Picnic musings – tips to avoid foodborne illness

My baby is a quarter century old. And, moving away for school. My tummy ache is missing her already but I worry about other tummy aches at the outdoor party this afternoon to celebrate both these amazing achievements!

The heat index has been hovering dangerously high inviting blood thirsty bacteria bugs to the party – ultra-care in food preparation is a must. Long gone are the days when grandma left the potato salad and burger fixin’s on the picnic table covered with napkins to deter hungry flies. “Just in case you get hungry after swimming,” she said.

Truth is, most ‘stomach flu’ is from what you ate. With food poisoning, you typically have fever, vomiting and diarrhea. These nasty symptoms usually kick in 2-6 hours after eating a contaminated food but could present days later. See a doc if symptoms persist – lots of fluids and rest is key.

I’m big into prevention, not treatment! Why go thru all that pain and suffering when a few tips can keep your party going on all night long?

  • Wash all fruits and veggies under running water (even pre-washed lettuce and produce whose skins are tossed in the compost bin). Scrub with a produce brush to get into all the wrinkles and nooks. Organic produce does not ensure bacteria-free.
  • Assume all raw meat products and eggs have bacteria. Cook thoroughly to kill it. A meat thermometer ensures your poultry is at 165 degree F and all other meat is 165 degrees F. Egg yolks should be cooked through.
  • Wash all utensils, cutting boards, counter tops and hands with warm, soapy water after preparing meat. Oh, and avoid cross-contamination by defrosting meats at the lowest level in your fridge.
  • Refrigerate right away. Food left out more than 2 hours should be tossed (yes, it’s OK to compost it).

These prep methods will alleviate worry and ensure everyone, including the host, can enjoy the party! And I’ll continue working on letting go as time passes and the kid moves on.

Eye for exercise
Feeding your soul

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