The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall is the public information director of the Henry/Stark Health Departments.
Blog: How to keep summer food safe
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By Henry Health
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Rae-Ann Tucker-Marshall
Henry-Stark Health Department
July 10, 2013 10 a.m.

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health
Division reminds area residents that summertime is outdoor activity time.
It's the season for community activities, festivals, and events, family
reunions, backyard barbecues and other friendly get-togethers. Therefore,
the Health Department would like to remind area residents that if you are
preparing to serve food to the Public through an event that is up to two
consecutive days and/or no more than 12 intermittent days in any calendar
year that you are required to register with the Health Department so that we
can better assist you in the sanitation standards of food preparation.
It's true that cooking and eating outside in the fresh air is fun for
everyone. Unfortunately, warm weather eating also brings out something else
less pleasant - food poisoning. To avoid such an unwelcome addition to any
picnic or cookout the Health Department Environmental Health Director,
Dorothy David notes the following:
* When at the grocer's, choose meat and poultry last. Bag your
selections with other cold items and get them home promptly. Don't leave
such food in the car while you run errands. If foods are allowed to get
warm, germs and pathogens that are present will begin to multiply."
* Once home, store soon-to-be-used meat and poultry items in the
refrigerator in their original store wrapper or rewrap in freezer foil and
stored in the deep freezer. This will shorten freezing time and also enable
them to be thawed more quickly later on by reducing the time needed between
thawing and cooking. What's more, meat and poultry products should never be
allowed to thaw at room temperature. Defrosting such items in the
refrigerator or microwave is a much safer practice.
* Pay close attention to how foods are prepared for cooking outdoors.
Wash all countertops, cutting boards and knives with hot soapy water before
and after using them for raw foods. Such "cross contamination" could be
unhealthy. Always wash hands before and after handling raw meat items.
* When packing up foods for a picnic or outing, place perishable items
including hot dogs, cheese and luncheon meats in a well insulated cooler and
cover with plenty of ice. Keep coolers in the shade and open them only when
* While it is usually safe to store picnic leftovers in an ice filled
cooler, it's a good idea to package up remaining foods immediately after the
meal is finished. Food items left out at room temperatures for three hours
or more should be discarded, but those exposed to warmer outside
temperatures should be disposed of much sooner. Actually, the best rule to
follow is "when in doubt, throw it out."
David adds, "Food poisoning may often go undetected, as the symptoms
often mimic those of the flu and include headache, diarrhea, nausea,
vomiting and fever. However, food poisoning can be serious and anyone who
suspects that they have such a condition should consult their health care
professional right away."
The staff of the Health Department urges everyone to practice good food
handling habits before, during and after warm weather meals. Please
remember to send your completed food registration forms if you are serving
to the public. Help make summertime fun, delicious and safe. For more
information on the Health Department's Food Program visit our website at
www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County
Health Departments.

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