Have a Healthier Cookout

Summer sunshine calls for picnics and cookouts, but dining al fresco presents some challenges for food safety. ProMedica Wellness dietitian Kinsy McNamee talked with 13abc’s Melissa Voetsch about food safety tips and healthy alternatives.

Kinsy recommends the following tips:

Make sure your food is thoroughly cooked.

Red meat, hot dogs, brats and pork should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 160°. Poultry, chicken breasts and turkey burgers should reach an internal temperature of 165°. Kinsy’s advice: Go with a lean protein like chicken to keep the calories down.

Use the 2-hour rule.

Prepared dishes, such as potato salad, should be kept at a safe temperature. Dishes left in the “temperature danger zone” of 40°-140° are susceptible to bacteria growth. Make sure prepared dishes are not in this danger zone for more than two hours. After two hours, the dish must either be refrigerated to drop below 40° or reheated above 140°.

Load up on fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables (when not prepared or in prepared dishes) don’t create the same concerns regarding food safety. They can be left out pretty much all day if not prepared, so they offer a healthy alternative that is good to eat in any weather. Opt for a fruit salad instead of a potato salad or load your chicken kabob with veggies, too.

Clean your hands before eating.

Simple hand hygiene is important for food safety and general health. Wash your hands before preparing or eating food (use this guide to make sure you’re washing well). If you can’t make it indoors to wash up beforehand, be sure to carry hand sanitizer to stay conveniently clean.

View the original interview with Kinsy McNamee and 13abc’s Melissa Voetsch in this video and read Kinsy’s HealthConnect columns.