Memorial Day Weekend Food Safety Tips

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Picnics and cookouts often top the list of activities for Memorial Day weekend. But remember, special precautions need to be taken when preparing and serving food during warm weather to avoid foodborne illnesses like salmonellosis.

To help prevent foodborne illness:

* Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling any food and after handling raw poultry, meat or eggs.

* Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables.

* Cook foods thoroughly, especially ground beef, poultry and pork. While rare beef is sometimes popular, disease-causing organisms can survive in undercooked meat.

* Keep hot foods hot ( 140° Fahrenheit or above) and cold foods cold ( 40° Fahrenheit or below).


Cook ground meat, where bacteria can spread during grinding, to at least 160° Fahrenheit. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness, so use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your burgers.

Make sure to keep raw meat, fish or poultry cold until it is cooked and make sure it does not come in contact with ready-to-eat food (e.g., cheese, sliced onions, tomatoes or bread). Also, never place cooked meats on the same plate or pan that held raw meats.

Do not leave food un-refrigerated longer than one hour at a time. Some popular cold picnic foods are potentially hazardous and require special care.

* Any homemade food that contains eggs, meat or poultry such as: egg, chicken, tuna and potato salads as well as deviled eggs
* Luncheon meats, sandwich fillings and other ready-to-eat protein foods
* Meat, fish or poultry
* Milk and other dairy products
* Sliced tomatoes
* Cut melons

Foods served hot, especially creamed or scalloped dishes containing milk, eggs, cornstarch or flour, should be cooked just before picnic time and kept hot and covered until served.

The symptoms of most types of food poisoning include severe cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms typically begin from 30 minutes to three days after eating contaminated food.

Most cases of foodborne illness are mild, and the symptoms disappear in a day or two. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a physician.