There’s something about cooking on the grill and eating outdoors that adds to the flavor of summertime gatherings. For those who prefer air conditioning, fewer ants, and opt to eat indoors, there are still food safety hazards worth regarding. When it comes to certain methods of cooking—and warm weather— our delicious food can quickly become unsafe for our health. Let’s explore how we can keep safety on our side…
Did You Scrub Behind the Ears?
Washing fresh produce is imperative, especially if it will be eaten raw. Any kind of vegetables with leaves can house a bevy of bugs or insects. Corn on the cob and its husks are notorious for boarding crawling creatures as well as bacteria.
If you are husking the corn and plan to boil it, this would be your safest option. Another plan is to scrub the husked corn and place it in foil on the grill. Some corn connoisseurs enjoy placing their ears directly on the grill; however, take care that the flames don’t come in contact with your food.
To Grill or Not to Grill?
Just as you don’t want your veggies overcooked on the barbeque, take better care not to overdo your meets. Charred bits of food create carcinogenic chemicals. Grilling may smell and taste great, but, unfortunately, when meat is cooked at over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, carcinogens are formed.
Other instances when carcinogenic compounds are formed are: 1) when the meat is cooked over a long period of time, and 2) when juices drip, making the flames hit the meat. Meat in these cases isn’t just hamburger or steaks. This includes hot dog, chicken, sausage, and even broiled fish.
The good news is that you can avoid potential illness when grilling by following some of these tips:
- wrap the meat in foil
- pre-cook in an oven and complete over a medium heat grill
- use a gas barbeque so that you can control the temperature
- avoid charring, or cut off ends or pieces that appear burned
- flip the foods frequently
- marinate the meat in anti-cancer, antioxidant herbs and spices (garlic, onion, turmeric, oregano, etc.)
Lettuce Eat in Peace
Lots of critters come in contact with lettuce and other leafy vegetables. This includes creatures of the human type, along with animals and bugs. Their germs easily transfer to the food whether it’s out in the field, on a truck, in the market, or even in your fridge. Thorough cleansing is a must before eating any produce, especially if it has no skin or covering.
Fruits like mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and coconuts are amongst the safest from contamination because of their thick skins. Even if your bagged lettuce or spinach claims it’s pre-washed, don’t take any chances. A University of California study showed that pre-washed spinach still contained over 85% of the bacteria on it from when it was plucked. Clean it yourself and your tummy will thank you.
When To Toss It
So, you’ve prepared some lovely food. Sometimes, there are leftovers. Here are some tips on keeping or tossing:
- Toss anything that started out raw (especially if it sat in the sun). This would include Caesar salad or dressing, mayonnaise, butter, eggs, meats, fish, crudite. You may be tempted to refrigerate and eat later—don’t risk it.
- Toss opened, unfinished bottles of water. You can pour it over houseplants or next to a tree.
- Refrigerate cooked meats, but keep only for two days.
- Refrigerate cooked rice or pasta, but keep only for one day (and this is assuming it has no dairy or raw marinade or dressing in it).
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