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5 Summer Food Safety Tips

5 Summer Food Safety Tips

The season of barbecues, picnics, and patio parties is upon us! Between picking out the perfect gear for outdoor entertaining and choosing which potato salad to toss up, food safety can quickly become an afterthought. But, fear not! We have some easy tips to keep your summer food fresh and guests happy.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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1. Store and transport perishable foods properly.Separate your meats, produce, and salads in their individual containers, and place them towards the bottom of the cooler for maximum insulation. Also, putting the coolers in the car seat versus the trunk allows the containers to stay colder, longer.

2. Put cold drinks in a separate cooler.This is something we don't always think about but should. Putting drinks in another cooler helps keep the cooler containing the food cooler longer by minimizing the number of times it's opened. Pack that Tequila-Watermelon Refresco along with plenty of water to share.

3. Avoid taking dishes that contain uncooked or unpasteurized eggs.Use pasteurized eggs when transporting egg salads and homemade mayonnaise-based dishes, and keep those cold until just before serving.

4. Don’t prepare food more than one day before your picnic.Cooking food ahead of time allows more time for bacteria to grow, so keep prep closer to the day of the event. Also, the NSF advises remembering to consume the food within an hour of serving (two hours on cooler days).

Pack that Summer Veggie Sandwich well, and you won't have to wait an hour for it to be gobbled up!

5. Throw out leftovers.Since the food has time to sit before and during your summer festivities, the NSF recommends throwing leftovers out after your picnic. Yes, that includes your Gingered Berry Shortcake… if there's any left.

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5 Easy Summer Entertaining Tips and Recipes

With the beautiful days of summer fast approaching, many of us are hoping to entertain guests in the backyard or on the patio—but the last thing we need is any stress! Outdoor entertaining needs to be easy, and as host we don’t want to be exhausted by the time the guests arrive—or worse yet, still stuck in the kitchen. Check out our 3 summer party themes below and other helpful tips so that you, too, can enjoy a fabulous but casual outdoor get-together this summer.

USDA's Five Tips for a Food Safe Thanksgiving

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2016 – This week millions of Americans will gather family and friends around the dinner table to give thanks. But for those preparing the meal, it can be a stressful time. Not to mention, for many it is the largest meal they have cooked all year, leaving plenty of room for mistakes that could cause foodborne illness.

"Unsafe handling and undercooking of food can lead to serious foodborne illness," said Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). "Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking the turkey. Similarly, leaving leftovers out for too long, or not taking care to properly clean cooking and serving surfaces, can lead to other types of illness. We want to be sure that all consumers know the steps they can take and resources that are available to them to help prepare a safe and enjoyable holiday meal. "

To avoid making everyone at the table sick, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) offers five tips for a food safe Thanksgiving:

Tip 1: Don't Wash That Turkey.

According to the most recent Food Safety Survey, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, 68 percent of the public washes whole turkey before cooking it. USDA does not recommend washing raw meat and poultry before cooking. Washing raw meat and poultry can cause bacteria to spread up to three feet away. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, frying or grilling) meat and poultry to the right temperature kills any bacteria that may be present, so washing meat and poultry is not necessary.

Tip 2: Use the refrigerator, the cold-water method or the microwave to defrost a frozen turkey.

There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave oven. Thawing food in the refrigerator is the safest method because the turkey will defrost at a consistent, safe temperature. It will take 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. To thaw in cold water, submerge the bird in its original wrapper in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. For instructions on microwave defrosting, refer to your microwave's owner's manual. Cold water and microwave thawing can also be used if your bird did not entirely defrost in the refrigerator.

Tip 3: Use a meat thermometer.

The only way to determine if a turkey (or any meat, poultry or seafood) is cooked is to check its internal temperature with a food thermometer. A whole turkey should be checked in three locations: the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast. Your thermometer should register 165°F in all three of these places. The juices rarely run clear at this temperature, and when they do the bird is often overcooked. Using the food thermometer is the best way to ensure your turkey is cooked, but not overdone.

Tip 4: Don't store food outside, even if it's cold.

Storing food outside is not food safe for two reasons. The first is that animals, both wild and domesticated, can get into food stored outside, consuming it or contaminating it. The second is temperature variation. Just like your car gets warm in the summer, a plastic food storage container in the sun can heat up and climb into the danger zone (above 40°F). The best way to keep that extra Thanksgiving food at a safe temperature (below 40°F) is in a cooler with ice.

Tip 5: Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Cut the turkey off the bone and refrigerate it as soon as you can, within 2 hours of the turkey coming out of the oven. Leftovers will last for four days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won't use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months. After that, the leftovers will still be safe, but can dry out or lose flavor.

Want additional food safety tips?

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. Last November they answered more than 3,000 calls about Thanksgiving dinner. You can also chat live with a food safety expert at, available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET.

Consumers with food safety questions can visit to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter, @USDAFoodSafety, or on Facebook, at

NOTE: Access news releases and other information at FSIS' website at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

5 Easy Healthy Summer Recipes

by Pam Anderson, AARP, July 3, 2019 | Comments: 0

En español | You could serve that old reliable summer meal—barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad and watermelon—but with a few tweaks, you can do it better, fresher, healthier. Here are five recipes to feed your inspiration.

Smoky Barbecue Chicken Thighs

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are super flavorful and grill quickly. Heighten flavor with the simple spice rub, and rather than slather on lots of barbecue sauce, just brush on a mix of apple cider vinegar and honey for a light, pleasant sweet-and-sour finish.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

* Mix sugar, paprika, pepper, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl mix vinegar and honey.

* Put the chicken into a shallow pan, drizzle with the oil, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken toss and rub to coat thoroughly.

* Prepare a hot charcoal fire, or heat a gas grill with all burners on high for 10 minutes.

* Clean the hot grate with a wire brush, and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel. Put the chicken, skin side down, onto the grate and grill, covered, until one side has dark grill marks (5 to 6 minutes for large thighs 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs). Turn and continue to grill until well marked on the other sides and cooked through (5 to 6 minutes longer for large thighs 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs).

* Transfer thighs to a serving dish, and brush with vinegar-honey mixture let rest 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

Use the sun-dried-tomato oil to dress the salad. It's a good use of the oil, and it makes a flavorful topping.

  • 2 pounds baby red and blue potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small-diced shallots (2 medium or 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, plus 3 tablespoons sun-dried-tomato oil
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1/2 small)
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each whole-grain mustard and Dijon mustard

* Place potatoes, with water to cover, in a medium pot cover pot and bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a thin-bladed paring knife inserted into one of the potatoes can be removed with no resistance, 15 to 20 minutes.

* Drain and cool potatoes until warm enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, thinly slice warm potatoes and layer them in a medium bowl, drizzling with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and lightly seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Place shallots, tomatoes, peppers and basil over potatoes. Can be covered and set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours.

* Mix remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar with mustards and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gradually whisk in sun-dried-tomato oil to form an emulsified dressing.

* When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Grilled-Corn Salad With Arugula, Avocado and Radishes

For efficiency, grill the corn when you grill the chicken. Aleppo pepper offers mild, distinct heat. You should be able to find it in a well-stocked grocery store or spice shop, and it's readily available online. If you can't find it, simply sprinkle the salad with ground black pepper to taste and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

  • 4 ears shucked corn
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups arugula or baby kale
  • 1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, skinned and cut into small dice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

* Prepare a hot charcoal fire, or heat a gas grill with all burners on high for 10 minutes.

* Clean the hot grate with a wire brush, and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel. Put the corn onto the grate, and grill, covered, until spotty brown all over, turning at the 5- and 10-minute marks, for a total of 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand.

* When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs and place in a large bowl. Place radishes, scallions, arugula and cilantro over corn. (Can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.) When ready to serve, prepare and add avocado to the bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper toss to coat. Drizzle lime juice over salad toss to coat again. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve.

For expert tips to help feel your best, get AARP’s monthly Health newsletter.

Watermelon Salad With Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Syrup

Pomegranate syrup's sweet-sourness heightens the watermelon's flavor. The syrup is available at specialty shops and well-stocked grocery stores and online. If you can't locate it, substitute balsamic glaze or reduction, which you can find in the vinegar aisle in most grocery stores. And if you're up for it, you can make balsamic glaze by simmering balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat to a syrup consistency.

  • 6 cups medium-diced watermelon
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) small-diced feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
  • 1/2 cup torn mint leaves

Place watermelon cubes in a large, wide serving dish. (Can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.) When ready to serve, sprinkle feta, drizzle pomegranate syrup, and scatter mint leaves over watermelon. Serve.

Frozen Coconut Milk and Raspberry Sorbet With Blueberry Sauce

If you have an ice cream freezer, you can easily make homemade frozen vanilla coconut milk. It's as simple as mixing 2 cans (13.5 ounces each) of regular coconut milk, 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla in a medium bowl. Refrigerate overnight until well chilled. A few hours before serving, churn, and then place in the freezer until ready to serve.

The blueberry sauce melds the store-bought frozen coconut milk and raspberry sorbet and gives this easy dessert a homemade feel. Leftover berry sauce can be used to flavor yogurt.

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, plus extra for serving (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 pint frozen vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 pint raspberry sorbet

* Put berries, honey, orange zest and 6 tablespoons water into a small Dutch oven. When mixture starts to simmer, whisk in cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency. Cool sauce to room temperature. (Can be refrigerated in a covered jar for a couple of weeks.)

* A couple of hours before serving, remove cardboard packaging from around the sorbet. Working quickly, use a sharp knife to slice the frozen tube into 6 rounds, laying them on a small rimmed baking sheet and immediately returning them to the freezer. Repeat the process with the frozen coconut milk.

When ready to serve, place one of each frozen round onto a dessert plate. Top with blueberry sauce — and a couple of fresh blueberries, if you like — and serve immediately.

11 Summer Pasta Salad Recipes for Every Picnic, Potluck, and BBQ

Pasta salad is an ideal outdoor food but even the most perfect dish can get boring after a few months. Try these interesting summer pasta salad recipes and spins on the classic side to make your Labor Day picnic spread or BBQ the most exciting one yet.

If pasta salad didn’t already exist, the first person invited to a potluck picnic would pretty much have to invent it. A cold salad of penne or macaroni (or even spaghetti noodles!), tossed with summer vegetables, meats, cheeses, herbs, and a bold dressing is the perfect thing to transport out to the coast or nearest park, to drop on a picnic table at camp, or serve up to harmonize beautifully with anything coming off the grill in your backyard.

Another Side of Summer 16 Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Side Dish Recipes A note on food safety: some of these forgo mayo, but contrary to popular belief, store-bought mayonnaise rarely makes anyone sick still, to be on the safe side, check out our outdoor entertaining hacks to see how you can use a simple shower cap and some ice to make snugly fitting bowl covers that keep things chill. And if you need to take your pasta salad on a journey, see our favorite stylish coolers and picnic baskets for packing your food to go all summer long.

Here are 11 of our favorite summer pasta salad recipes and spins on the classic summer side.

1. Classic Pesto Pasta Salad

Simplicity and vividness of flavor are the appeal with this time-honored potluck charmer: fresh basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, freshly grated parmesan, freshly cooked penne rigate—are you catching the thread? Get our Classic Pesto Pasta Salad recipe.

FabQuality Reusable Silicone Lids, $6.99 from Amazon

This set of stretchy silicone lids includes various sizes to fit all your bowls and help you cut down on foil and plastic wrap.

2. Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad

Conchiglie (conch-shell pasta) shares bowl space with the freshest, sweetest veggies from the summer farmers’ market: corn, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes grilling them before tossing them in gives them a smoky summer note. Crumbled feta and cilantro make it feel extra easy-going. Get our Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad recipe.

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5. Guacamole

Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and vitamins C and K.

A review of 10 studies in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that using avocado instead of other fats appeared to reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

Try it. Instead of tortilla chips, try pairing guacamole with healthier dippers such as vegetables, whole-grain crackers or pita bread, or shrimp.

Use it as a side dish or a topping for sandwiches and turkey burgers. You can also add it to eggs, salads, and soups.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2016 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

10 Healthy Summer Food Ideas For Kids:

The best and healthy summer foods for kids are drinks, juices, fruit Cups, yogurt, wraps, burgers, pancakes, eggs, popcorn, watermelon/musk melon and naturally sweet. Read below to know about each food option in detail.

1. Drinks and Juices:

When the mercury rises, you need to prepare foods which are cool! Juices, especially those made with coconut water, lemon, cucumber or watermelon are coolants for the blistering heat. Blend it with fresh sprigs of mint.

2. Fruit Cups:

Whether its breakfast, dessert or a mid-afternoon snack, a chilled fruit salad is a fresh, delicious choice for the entire family. Halve a melon and fill it with sliced papaya or tender coconut slices.

3. Yogurt:

Curd is a delicious coolant. You can also add fruits to the curds to make a lip-smacking and wholesome smoothie or just churn it with water, add some jaljeera powder. You can also give masala buttermilk during the summer.

4. Wraps:

A revised version of a chapatti roll, a wrap has lots of health wrapped in it. You can fill in lots of those stamina foods – beans, low-fat cheese, vegetables (red and green capsicum, corn, green onions, spinach, mushrooms), and chicken into these all time favourite among kids.

5. Burgers:

Though there is so much chest-beating about it as a junkie, you could spice it up with healthy fillings like whipped curd instead of mayonnaise. Instead of red meat, you can grill them with patties made of chicken, lentils or vegetables. Fruits, like a pineapple round with a dash of pepper, also make healthy patties.

6. Pancakes:

For an instant energy booster, dish out a fun breakfast for kids with a sliced banana pancake, made of whole wheat grain and topped with fresh chilled strawberries. Your kid will gorge on this yummy breakfast for sure!

7. Eggs:

Used with caution, eggs have an amazing quotient of stamina. Scrambled eggs sautéed with mushrooms, along with wholegrain bread is a favourite amongst kids. Egg-nog with a few drops of vanilla essence, French toast with almond flakes and caramel egg-custard also work great with picky eaters.

8. Popcorn:

Yes! Pop corn is a healthy food for kids in summer. Add a dash of cheese, salt and pepper to make it zingy and take caution to serve in small quantities.

9. Watermelon / Musk melon:

Serve it as juice or wedges, either way they are delicious. Make sure they are on your dining table every meal and eat the seeds as well for its iron content. You can also freeze water melon sorbet and enjoy them as popsicles, for a change!

10. Naturally sweet:

A fistful of almonds, raisins and walnuts together, mixed in a small cup of yoghurt, is healthier than Nutty Ice cream. Dark chocolate sauce topping on strawberries is another “cool” deal. If needed add little amount of whipped cream as a special treat.

Try out these summer recipes and foods for your kids and share with us if you have any interesting ideas. Make sure you involve your kids in the kitchen, as it will make the process even more fun!

Cook Slow to Save Time: Four Important Slow Cooker Food Safety Tips

With work, school, sports practices, music lessons and homework time filling up the calendar, the back-to-school season can be hectic. During this busy time of year, having dinner waiting for you when you come home can make life so much easier. That’s why a lot of people choose to use slow cookers. No more standing in front of the refrigerator trying to make decisions about what to have for dinner after a long day at work. No more trying to balance food prep and homework. Just throw the ingredients in the slow cooker before work and turn it on!

There are so many advantages to using a slow cooker. They can help you save time and money. Slow cookers use less electricity than a conventional oven. They cook foods slowly and at a low temperature — between 170°F and 280°F, and the low heat helps less expensive, leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrink less. The direct heat from the pot and lengthy cooking time combine to destroy bacteria, making the slow cooker a good choice for safely cooking foods.

Is there a safer way to serve condiments and drinks?

Perhaps the trickiest food components of a summer barbecue are communal items like condiments and drinks. Doron recommended setting out condiment packets and instructing guests to only touch what they're taking. If you can't find packets, Nachman recommended setting up small amounts of condiments in pre-filled mini paper cups. If you don't want to go the individual pre-portioned route, Chotani said you should appoint one person to serve food, one to serve condiments and one to serve drinks.

If you can't have a server manning a drink station with pitchers, keep hand sanitizer nearby. Also, don't forget that when it's hot outside, guests shouldn't be without water.

"We want everyone to stay hydrated and drink lots of water" said Nachman. The best case scenario, according to Doron, is to provide drinks in individual cans or bottles so guests can help themselves. As a guest, if you want to bring your own beverage that's fine, but don't be offended if the host says they would prefer to handle most elements of food service.

Watch the video: Summertime Food Safety Tips