If you’re having a picnic today, or just grilling out in the backyard for friends or family, be sure you exercise proper food safety. Be sure not to leave food sitting out too long, since it could pick up bacteria that makes you and your guests sick. We wouldn’t want this to become a situation where someone has to go to the doctor or even the hospital.
Here is some helpful information on taking care of leftovers. Also, remember these tips when you bring those perishables home from the grocery store next time.
How Long Is Food Good For
by Victor Epand
Raw hamburger: has a refrigerator shelf life of 2-3 days after purchase. If you do not use the hamburger within 3 days, it should be frozen for future use. It can be frozen either raw or cooked.
Hummus: It has the typical ingredients – chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Hummus can be refrigerated in a closed container for up to 5 days and can be kept in the freezer in an air-tight container for up to one month. If the hummus appears dry when you take it out of the refrigerator or freezer, you can add a little olive oil.
For meat leftovers, the general guideline is 3-4 days. After that time, bacteria could grow to a level that could cause food borne illness, even in refrigeration. Food spoilage organisms, on the other hand, cause changes in color, texture and flavor and while they are not harmful to eat, they often mask harmful food borne illness bacteria. That’s why we recommend that if food spoilage organisms are present the food should definitely not be consumed.
How many times can you reheat food like this? Technically, if you handle the food properly.By handling properly I mean that the food was cooled within 6 hours to 40 degrees, rapidly reheated to 165 degrees, cooled within 6 hours to 40 degrees, rapidly reheated to 165 degrees, etc. So technically if it is handled as above it’s safe. But as you know, food doesn’t get better with heating/cooling/re-heating. Vegetables break down and become mushy and food takes on a dull color.
Most restaurants do not reheat foods more than 1 time if at all. They don’t reheat because it takes time to monitor food to ensure that it has been handled properly to remain safe and because food doesn’t get better with reheating. Even restaurants famous for chili (one food that does get a better flavor when reheated)prepare fresh chili each day as their reputation is built on good quality, fresh food.
An obviously if you are having a pool party where you have access to a house or facility, keep the food displayed inside if it is possible!
Leftover cooked carrots need to be refrigerated for proper storage after preparation. Cooked vegetables such as carrots can support the growth of harmful bacteria if not handled properly after cooking. Prompt refrigeration helps tremendously in reducing the chances that the carrots will support the growth of harmful bacteria.
It is not recommended to eat leftover ahi tuna that has not been cooked before initial consumption. Raw fish is highly perishable and loses flavor, color and moisture as it is held. Also, food borne pathogens are more prominent in raw fish and can grow to harmful levels as the fish ages.
The recommendation for thawed poultry in the refrigerator is a maximum of 3 days. If you put a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, once it has defrosted, you then have up to 3 days before it must be cooked.
The Government provided Food Safety chart is an excellent guide on how long to store foods in the refrigerator for both quality and safety. While you may be able to store food longer, it has been found that if you stay within these guidelines you will have both a safe and tasty food product to cons
A few additional considerations:
If you are having a group gathering where you don’t know everyone’s allergy and health issues you might want to stay away from dishes containing peanuts and peanut butter. Reactions to peanuts and can range from mild to death.
Homemade lemonade or a jug of fresh water are great alternatives to sodas and if possible, even on a hot day, access to a jug of coffee is great for those that have had a little too much beer, wine etc, whose affects are often accelerated by being out in the sun.
Healthy food and calories are always something good to consider, but for the holidays and especially outdoor events, safety and freshness of the food you are serving should always be the greater concern.
And make sure there is plenty of water for the pets who are attending and watch what they are being fed! Real food is far superior for pets than any commercial pet food, but junk food and too much fat is bad for them, just like for humans and they do have a list of absolute no-no foods:
The “Not So Safe Food For Pets” List
The following foods are not safe for dogs, cats, potbellied pigs, or guinea pigs. Never give the following foods or beverages to your pets:
- Alcohol of any kind
- Anything with Caffeine
- Bones from Ham, Chicken, or Turkey (any fowl)
- Candied Yams
- Casseroles (unless you absolutely know that none of the no-no foods are in them)
- Chocolate and Cocoa (this includes things like brownies and chocolate chip cookies) and dark chocolate is the worst… exactly opposite from people.
- Jell-O Molds
- Macadamia Nuts (this includes things like cookies and pies) and go easy on nuts in general
- Pecan Pie
- Potato Skins
- Careful of processed Pork Products because of the nitrates, especially ham.
- Stuffing, unless you made it from scratch yourself. (it usually contains onions, which is very harmful to pets)
- Anything with onions in it (and garlic should be fed in moderation)
- Anything with Xylitol in it
- Grapes or raisins
- Raw eggs – this is only on the list because of possible exposure to salmonella bacteria, not because the raw eggs are bad for them. (It is the same as concerns over E Coli and other bacterial contamination with raw meat, even though the raw meat is great for them!)
- Baby food if it contains onion powder
- Milk (and American Cheese) can be a problem for some dogs. And be aware that some animals can be lactose intolerant like some people.
- Avocados – especially for birds and cats
- Sage as well as many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils. (Often used in dressing and stuffing)
- Also keep them away from any rising bread dough or other rising dough. It can kill them and kill them very quickly.
FIREWORKS DOS AND DON’TS
- Use fireworks outdoors, in an area clear of dry vegetation and combustibles.
- Follow the directions on the packaging.
- Wear safety goggles and close-toed shoes.
- Keep a hose or bucket of water handy, and soak each device after burning.
- Keep kids and spectators at a distance.
- Don’t freestyle. Avoid altering or combining fireworks, and steer clear of homemade devices made from illegal explosives.
- Don’t try to relight a “dud” firework.
- Don’t hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
- Don’t let kids under 12 use sparklers.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Have a “designated shooter.”
Meanwhile, enjoy your picnic today!