There was recently another E. coli outbreak around the nation, and this made me think that now is a good time to talk about food safety. With spring and summer picnics on the way, here are some helpful tips for you when it comes to handling, storing and serving food.

Clean, clean, clean: Wash hands often, keep work space clean, and thoroughly clean all foods.

Expiration Dates: Make sure to check the expiration dates before working with the food.

Know storage times: offers a great resource for guidance on refrigerator and freezer storage.

Avoid cross-contamination: Use separate platters and utensils for raw and cooked foods; and make sure to serve food on clean platters. Never place cooked food on the same platter the uncooked food was on, unless it has been thoroughly cleaned first.

Hot foods hot: Hot foods should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees or above. This varies according the food, check out for more information. Also note that an oven set to 200 or so degrees is great for keeping hot foods hot until serving.

Cold foods cold: Cold foods should be at 40 degrees or below. Once set out for serving, the food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours or more than 1 hour during summer hours.

Thawing foods: Should be done in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. In the case of meat, ensure that as the meat thaws, the juices do not run into other food.

Storing hot foods: Hot foods should be restored in shallow containers in order to allow them to cool quickly.

A note about the fridge: Allow for airflow, do not pack the fridge too tightly.

Any doubts, throw it out: If there is even the slightest doubt about a food, throw it out. It’s not worth the risk!

May all your outings be safe and healthy and remember that “Dreams Really Do Come True.”

All my love,

~ Mary