Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Summertime Food Safety

Connie Liakos, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD
July 16, 2020 05:00PM

When temperatures heat up, bad food bugs can multiply quickly


In the midst of a global pandemic, the last thing families need to worry about is foodborne illness! The guidance below is a reminder to practice safe food handling this summer.


Even the most nutritious fresh foods can spell disaster if they are contaminated with dangerous bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases every year.


Start in Your Kitchen

Did you know that the majority of foodborne illnesses (commonly referred to as food poisoning) begin in the home kitchen? The four principles below will guide you in keeping your food free from harmful germs.



  • Wash hands often with warm, soapy water and keep your kitchen surfaces, utensils and appliances clean. The factor most important in producing clean hands is time. Scrub hands for the duration of the “A-B-C song” (about 20 seconds).
  • Wash the exterior of produce such as melons, avocados and citrus fruit before slicing.
  • While reusable shopping bags may be great for the environment, they can harbor dangerous bacteria. Maintain separate bags for uncooked protein foods such as fresh meats, poultry, eggs and fish. Wash bags in the washing machine every week.


Separate – Don’t cross-contaminate
Use a separate cutting board and knife for produce and another for raw foods such as chicken, fresh fish and meats. Always sanitize by submerging cutting boards in hot soapy water or washing in the dishwasher.


Cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer for meats and other protein-based foods. For a chart of the minimum temperatures recommended for each food category, visit


Don’t sample food products prepared with raw eggs. Even one tasty spoonful of cookie batter could harbor dangerous bacteria. If preparing recipes that call for raw eggs – such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing or homemade ice cream – be sure to use liquid pasteurized eggs.


Refrigerate food right away. There is no need to cool on the counter first. Toss food that has been left out for more than two hours. And when in doubt, throw it out!


Summer Travels

The last thing you want on a vacation, car trip or picnic at the beach are sick kids! Be sure to keep plenty of ice or refreezable ice packs in your cooler and always enforce the use of hand washing or hand sanitizer before eating. If the ice is melted when you reach your destination, that is a sign that the food is not safe to eat.


Recommended Sites

The sites below are great resources for choosing and keeping your food safe.


Partnership for Food Safety Education


Food Safety Project at Iowa State University


Be Food Safe


Home Food Safety from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics