Guest Post, Nutrition

Summer Food Safety

By Paula Cerqueira, Dietetic Intern 

Kitchen tools. Photo by Dominic Morel

From barbecues to picnics at the beach, food is a big part of celebrating the season.  To ensure both pleasurable and safe eating experiences throughout the summer, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines that help prevent food borne illness.  The following tips should help serve as some basic strategies: 

  • Purchase last, refrigerate first – When purchasing groceries, buy meat, fish and poultry last and drive straight home to refrigerate or freeze so they’ll stay in the safe temperature range.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave – Use the refrigerator to thaw overnight or use the microwave to defrost if you’re in a rush.  Never thaw (or marinate) at room temperature.
  • Make good use of your cooler – When transporting food, use an insulated cooler and ice/ice packs to keep food below 41°F to minimize bacterial growth.  Pack raw foods that you intend to cook at your destination in a separate cooler from food that is ready-to-eat.
  • Cold food should be kept cold – Food should only be taken out of the refrigerator when it’s ready to be immediately cooked or eaten.
  • Clean hands, separate tools – Before handling food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  Prevent cross-contamination by using different plates and utensils for raw and cooked meat, poultry and fish.
  • Cook to safe temperatures – Raw meat, poultry, and fish may contain bacteria that can lead to illness if not cooked thoroughly.  Be sure to cook hamburgers, poultry, and hot dogs to an internal temperature of 165°F.  Fish, beef, pork, lamb, and veal (whole pieces, not ground) are safe at 145°F. Always use a meat thermometer and measure temperature in the middle of the thickest part of the food.
  • Once hot, keep it hot – After cooking, keep food hot (>140°F) until served.  Store any leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate within 2 hours (1 hour if it’s over > 90°F outside).  

For more information regarding food safety, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website. 

(Reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE, Nutritionist at MGH Revere)



Ice Cream and Summer BBQ

By Suzanne Russell-Curtis, RD, CDE
Bulfinch Medical Group

It’s finally arrived, summer! The time of year to relax, go on vacations, take trips to the beach, and eat BBQ.  Many of my patients complain that they are unable to fully enjoy summer because of Diabetes: no walking barefoot on the beach, no ice cream cones, no BBQ.  

It’s true you must wear shoes at all times, but not true that you have to avoid ice cream and BBQ.  You do have to choose wisely, though. Go ahead and eat that corn on the cob, just cut the ear in half. Enjoy that potato salad too; just take a small scoop, not a mound! 

If you have the option of fish go for it. Remember, grilled fish is much better for you than fried. If hamburgers and hotdogs are all that’s on the menu, grab a hamburger minus the cheese and use fresh tomatoes instead of ketchup. Fill half your plate with garden salad and use oil and vinegar dressing or lemon. Finally, fruit is in season and it’s at its juiciest, so skip the cookies and head for a small piece of fruit. 

If you are heading to the 4th of July cook-out or any summer party, remember you can always offer to bring a healthy dish, such as fresh vegetables, fish or lean hamburgers. Your host will appreciate it and you will have healthier alternatives available. You may even find that the other guests are also appreciative. 

Now…. what about everyone’s favorite summer treat…. ice cream! Go right ahead and enjoy your favorite flavor, but there are a few ways to enjoy it in a healthy fashion. It’s all about portion size, so think about “down sizing” not “super sizing”. You can do this by choosing the smallest size available, and the kid size is perfect. Think about picking toppings or “extras” and be wise about your choice. Nuts over candy, fresh fruit over fruit sauces and syrups. If you really want to mix it up, try sorbet:  it’s much more refreshing than ice cream. 

Hope this helps you all to enjoy the next 99 days!