Cooking outside brings some savory scents to the summer breezes. Increasingly, however, cooking out is not just a summer activity. A Weber GrillWatch Survey, in fact, showed that 49% of families intended to use their grill year-round.

Yet as more cooking and entertaining moves outside, people need to pay more attention to food safety as well, since outdoor cooking and dining offer ripe opportunities for food poisoning and other food borne illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year in the U.S., which includes 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Outside dining can be more susceptible to such cases because it comes with hazards people may not fully appreciate.

 

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Full booklet text:

Cooking outside brings some savory scents to the summer breezes. Increasingly, however, cooking out is not just a summer activity. A Weber GrillWatch survey, in fact, showed that 49 percent of families intended to use their grill year-round.

Yet as more cooking and entertaining moves outside, people need to pay more attention to food safety as well, as outdoor cooking and dining offer ripe opportunities for food poisoning and other food borne illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year in the U.S., which includes 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Outside dining can be more susceptible to such cases because it comes with hazards people may not fully appreciate. Here are the kinds of precautions people are urged to think about.*

• Perishable foods need to be kept at temperatures below 40° F when not cooking or eating. If using a cooler, that means keeping plenty of ice on top of the food as well as around it to truly refrigerate the contents.

• It’s best to thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the countertop or outside. Also, foods still need to be marinated in the refrigerator, not outside.

• When grilling different kinds of raw meat and fish, these meal items need to be kept separated to avoid cross contamination as well as contaminating different foods, such as by using the same, unwashed cutting board for cutting meat as well as other parts of the meal, a practice that is often blamed for food poisoning. This includes not taking the implements used for meat to stir other kinds of food without washing them. Different spoons and forks should be used to taste, stir and serve.

• For the same reason, it is important to keep washing hands before handling different types of food while cooking.

• Grills and coolers also need to be continuously cleaned with soap and water between cooking sessions and after use with different foods.

• The time it takes to cook different food varies, and it varies from what it takes on a regular stove and oven. To be truly safe, cooks should use a meat thermometer to make sure such favorites as hamburgers are cooked to 160° F, chicken to 165° F and hot dogs reheated to 160° F. Meat should never be partially grilled to finish cooking later. Foods like eggs should also be thoroughly cooked (not runny).

• Food should not be left out for more than two hours before refrigerating and, if it’s above 90°F, no more than an hour at the most. If there’s any doubt about how long something has been sitting around, it should be thrown out. And raw meats should not be sitting out any length of time before cooking.

And here’s one thing that’s we all know is true, too. While such precautions can be vital, they can often fall by the wayside in the busyness of preparing a meal. Continuing to run into the house to wash hands before handling the next food item is not something people readily do. A survey conducted by the FDA and the Department of Agriculture found 21 percent of cooks don’t wash their cutting boards after cutting raw meat.

These are some good reasons why creating outside kitchens that include refrigerators, sinks, microwaves, protected storage and counter space is in fact a healthy trend — so folks can have all the cooking elements they need at their fingertips, and enable outdoor cooking and dining to be as enjoyable and safe from food problems as indoor dining.

And … for such kitchen and dining areas …  Stoett screens provide an extra element of food safety. For one thing, adjustable screens block UV rays and cool the kind of heated environment that can accelerate food spoilage. The screens can cover the entire cooking and dining area, preventing dirt and foreign elements from contaminating food and keeping insects from invading both countertop and storage places. And people won’t have to think about what other substances that pesky fly may have landed on. With shaded comfort, cooks are less likely to “sweat it” and take the time to do things right. So these added elements of indoor comfort and convenience also make food safety precautions easier to achieve, while retaining the outdoor flavor of dining that has become increasingly attractive. Stoett screens just keep making outdoor living better and better.

 

* Sources:

Homefoodsaftey.org

Webmd.com

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