With all the Backyard BBQs, picnics and parties, have you ever thought how safe your food is out in the hot summer sun?
Recent CDC statistics indicate that one in six people will develop a food borne illness each year.
This can be potentially serious, especially for the elderly.
What can you do to prevent food poisoning and other food borne illnesses from occurring?
When you prepare food at home, you have a controlled environment with clean counter tops, dishes and cutting boards. But if you're outdoors, at a park or the beach, you don't have those benefits.
Raw foods, especially those mixed with mayo, can be particularly risky if left out for several hours. The clock is literally ticking on bacteria growth.
Raw meats that come in contact with uncooked (or even cooked) food can cross-contaminate with E. coli.
What if you like your red meat on the rare side? If you cook a steak, rare is typically OK. But with ground meat (like a burger), the E. coli exists in the middle of the meat and you will most likely get sick.
Regardless of whether you're cooking meat on your stove top, oven or the grill, a meat thermometer is a handy tool. Shoot for a minimum of 140-160 degrees for red meats and180 degrees for poultry.
Meat isn't the only culprit. Salmonella outbreaks can occur with tomatoes, lettuce or spinach.
Remember, make sure food that should stay cold, stays cold. Even 40-45 degrees can breed bacteria. Hot food that has cooled down can also become contaminated.
Another tip? Be careful about the water you use when camping. Bring extra water to wash hands, food and surfaces. You can boil water as well to be safe. Try to create the same conditions that you have in your own kitchen.
And, while it may seem to be a no-brainer, you should always wash your hands before you prepare food.
It's also a good idea to keep separate cutting boards for vegetables and meat/eggs.
Finally, follow the "last in, first out" rule; the items you pack at the top of a cooler should be the first eaten, because they've not been cooled as well as those at the bottom.
Tune in to Dr. Leigh and special guest, Dr. David John, as they discuss important safety tips for keeping your food fresh and disease-free.