Memorial Day Weekend is the official kick-off for the summer grilling season. It’s also the time food safety experts are even more enthusiastic about teaching us about Clean Eating and Clean Cooking! 

Here are the do’s and don’ts to keep us “Safe at the Plate” this summer as I presented on NBC Atlanta & Company.

Clean eating is a popular phrase these days, so what does that have to do with food safety? Well for me the most important definition for clean eating relates to safe food handling to keep food clean and free from pathogens such as bacteria that cause food borne illness.

Scrub and wash the rind of melons under cold running water, especially cantaloupe because the surface has so many nooks and crannies bacteria can be lurking.

Did you know that over two million people a year are sickened by mishandled foods? And that’s just the number affected by the bad bacteria called salmonella. There are even more that get sick from pathogens called listeria, e coli, and Campylobacter.
How do we keep our food safe and clean?

Recipes that include food safety instructions are THE BEST!


There’s a new movement for recipe writers to follow the “Safe Recipe Style Guide” More tips and information at Safe Recipe Guide.


Here are the 4 areas consumers can run into trouble when cooking. 

Hand Washing, Cross Contamination, Cooking temperatures, and Proper Chilling

So to keep it simple, keep these steps in mind!
CLEAN- SEPARATE-COOK-CHILL

CLEAN! Can “hand washing” really be part of a recipe? YES.
Did you know that 90% of people wash their hands using recipes with safety information and YIKES 59% don’t wash their hands if following a recipe w/o safety instructions?
So let’s get started with examples.


1. SEPARATE: avoiding cross-contamination
-Safe Grilling tips- Place raw meat on a cutting board or platter then transfer to grill with tongs. Wash the tongs before using to remove the cooked meat.

Warning: don’t use cutting board you used for raw meats to cut up fresh vegs! 

-Safe Marinade use- When using a marinade for raw meat, do NOT use as a sauce over cooked meats! Discard to heat to over 165 F in a sauce pan if you want to pour over cooked meats.

-Safe Serving- Wiping platter or cutting board (used to transport raw meats to the grill) with a paper towel is not enough! Always use a clean platter for serving cooked/grilled meats!!!


2. CLEAN: Always wash your hands before handling food. Then if handling raw meats, wash your hands again! Clean the exterior of vegetables such as melons, cucumbers with running water and a vegetable brush. Rinse grapes, blueberries and other more delicate fruits under running water in a colander and pat dry.

Scroll down for Recipe for Cantaloupe Cucumber Gazpacho


3. COOK- Use a meat thermometer to ensure meats are properly cooked.

Avoid the Danger Zone: temps between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.


4. CHILL-Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your fridge is cooling foods under 40 degrees F. Keep foods on ice when dining outside, especially if summer temps are over 80F!

If you SEE something, SAY something!

We’ve all been to cookouts at friends houses where we might see something that looks wrong for food safety. I mean like putting vegetables on same cutting board as meats, or taking the chicken off the grill and putting on the same platter the raw chicken was on….or maybe they just wiped it off with a paper towel. What do we Say??? What do we Do? You want to be invited back!! It’s always a good idea to encourage proper food safety. How about, “Would you like me to wash the platter so we can serve the meat on the same dish?” Or, “The marinade looks and smells delicious. Did you know it’s supposed to be discarded after touching raw meats?”

For more excellent food safety guidelines for Clean Cooking go to Safe Recipe Guide.

CANTALOUPE GAZPACHO 

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 4 

1 medium cantaloupe, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water, peeled, seeded and chopped 

1 small cucumber, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water, peeled and chopped 

2 tbsp chopped red onion, gently rubbed under cold running water 

2 tsps kosher salt 

1/3 cup water

1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Black pepper, for seasoning 

Mint, gently rubbed under cold running water and sliced, for topping 

DIRECTIONS

Wash hands with soap and water. In blender, puree cantaloupe, cucumber, onion, salt and water until smooth, about 1 – 2 minutes. 

With motor running, drizzle in olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. 

Serve gazpacho chilled, topped with mint slices