When the weather heats up and you are thinking about bringing your care efforts for your aging veteran parent outside to enjoy the fresh air and longer days, one thing that you are likely going to plan is a cookout. These fun outdoor meals are a great way to spend quality time with your family and friends, getting more social interaction while also enjoying delicious food. Anytime you are thinking about food, however, it is important that you keep safety and health in mind. Food safety is an especially important consideration during the summer months when the temperatures soar and many people enjoy more leisurely meals. This means that food is sitting out for longer and will be exposed to potentially dangerous temperatures.
Use these tip to help keep your family’s food safe when you are having a cookout this summer:
• Always wash hands. You always wash your hands before eating when you are inside, but somehow when it comes to a cookout people are far less likely to consider the cleanliness of their hands. You may even see family members playing outdoor games and then immediately eating. This can spread germs and potentially cause illness. If you are at home, make sure that everyone goes in and washes their hands prior to eating. If this is not an option, use a hose or other water to rinse hands and then a gel hand sanitizer to kill germs.
• Limit time out. While some of the fun of a cookout is being able to graze on your favorite summer foods while playing games and talking with your loved ones. This, however, can be dangerous. Foods should not stay out of refrigeration any longer than two hours. If the temperature of the day reaches 90 degrees or above, however, this should drop to only one hour.
• Bring ice. If your cookout is taking place away from refrigeration, make sure that you bring along several coolers stocked with ice. This will let you keep your leftovers safe. Keep your beverages in a separate cooler from the food so that when people open it to grab a cool drink they do not expose food to hot air.
• Avoid cross-contamination. If there is any preparation needed when you are at your cookout site, be careful to prevent cross-contamination between different types of foods. Keep all other foods away from surfaces that you will be using to prepare meat, pork, poultry, or fish. Do not use the same serving utensils to serve different foods, including placing uncooked foods on the same serving platters as cooked meats.
• Use a food thermometer. Pack a food thermometer to bring along with you to your cookout. This way if there is any doubt that food is still at a safe temperature, you can check quickly. Food that is meant to be served cold should not exceed 40 degrees. Casseroles, poultry, and foods such as macaroni and cheese should be cooked to 165 degrees. Ground meat and any cooked foods with eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees. Fresh meat such as pork, lamb, and beef should be cooked to 145 degrees and allowed to rest. Hitting these temperatures and maintaining them will dramatically reduce the chances of any foodborne illnesses or infections.
Having a senior veterans care provider with you during a cookout can make a tremendous difference in your ability to enjoy this event with your loved one. While you are handling cooking, preparation, serving, and other tasks or supervising your children, this senior health care services provider can offer assistance to your veteran parent and ensure that they stay safe and healthy throughout the event.
If you or an aging loved one are considering in-home Senior Veterans Care in Elgin IL, please contact the caring staff at Big Hearts Home Care today!