|Script: Foodborne Illness Rises in Warmer
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer -
who purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed meat, egg products for your family
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage,
handling, and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance
of keeping foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Kathy Bernard with the Food Safety and
Inspection Service. I’m your host for this segment. With me today is Gwen Hyland,
technical information specialist from FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff. We’re
talking about why foodborne illnesses increase in the summer and how you can keep
from becoming ill.
Hello Gwen, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Kathy.
Do foodborne illnesses – also known as “food poisoning”-- increase during the summer
Yes, foodborne illnesses do tend to increase during the warmer months for two
reasons: natural causes and people. Let me talk about the natural causes first.
Bacteria are a natural part of the environment. They’re everywhere – in the soil,
air, water, and in and on the bodies of people and animals. Bacteria multiply faster
in warm, summer months, especially at temperatures between ninety and one hundred
ten degrees Fahrenheit.
Given the right circumstances, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply on food to
large numbers. When this happens, someone could get sick from eating this food.
The second reason is people. During the summer months, there’s an upswing in
foodborne illnesses because outside activities increase. More people are cooking
outside at picnics, barbecues, and on camping trips and the safety controls that a
kitchen provides, such as thermostat-controlled cooking, refrigeration, and washing
facilities — are usually not available.
How can people protect themselves from foodborne illness in warmer weather and still
enjoy picnics and other outdoor events?
By following the four simple steps of USDA's "Be Food Safe" campaign. As long as
they remember Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill, they should be safe from foodborne
Hmmm….Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill: That's catchy. Can you explain each one?
I'd love to. The first step is CLEAN: Keep things clean by washing hands and
Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness.
Step two is Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate.
- Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before handling food and after
using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
- When eating away from home, find out if there's a source of safe water for
drinking and washing hands. If not, bring water for washing hands and cleaning
food preparation surfaces, or pack clean, wet, disposable washcloths or moist
towelettes and paper towels.
Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food can also
contribute to foodborne illness.
Remember: the juices of the raw meat should never touch the cooked meat!
- When packing the cooler for an outing, wrap raw meats securely to keep their
juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food.
- Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held the raw meat or poultry
before using again for perishable or cooked food.
Ok, we have Clean and Separate: What about Cook?
The third is Cook: Cook all meat and poultry to safe
temperatures. Food is safely cooked when it is heated for a long enough time and at
a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
Take a food thermometer to your outing and check the temperature of the meat or
poultry by inserting it into the thickest portion. If it has reached the USDA’s
recommended temperature, it should be safe to eat.
That brings us to Chill.
Keeping cold food cold is important. Both raw and cooked meat and poultry should never be
kept out at room or outdoor temperatures for more than two hours (one hour if the
temperature is over ninety degrees Fahrenheit).
- Cold perishables like luncheon meats, or potato salad, should be kept in an
insulated cooler packed with ice, ice packs, or containers of frozen water.
- Keep the cooler in the shade or shelter, out of the sun, whenever possible.
- If you are unable to take a cooler, pack only foods that are safe without
refrigeration, such as fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, canned or dried meats,
or peanut butter and crackers.
Is it safe to keep leftover from your outdoor events?
Perishable leftovers will be safe if kept on ice. If they are out of refrigeration for more than two hours, or there’s not enough ice to
keep the leftovers at forty degrees Fahrenheit or below, discard them.
You can learn more about preventing summertime foodborne
illness, and find USDA’s recommended safe minimum internal temperatures for cooking
meat and poultry, by visiting the FSIS Web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. Or visit us online for
assistance from our virtual representative “Ask Karen” at
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at
1-888-MPHotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
talking to Gwen Hyland, from FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff. Thank you so much,
Gwen, for explaining why foodborne illness can increase during warmer months. I’m
Kathy Bernard. Thank you for joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home.”
And remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that's all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode
of food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline
at 1-888-MPHotline. That's 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"Ask Karen" at askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: July 8, 2009