It's spring - the season to enjoy the great outdoors and celebrate special occasions, such as Easter, Passover, graduation, and Mother's Day! Prevent any unwelcome guests (a.k.a. harmful bacteria) from attending these events by following good food safety practices. Follow these tips...
Preventing foodborne illness is easy as...
- Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate - Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook - Cook to proper temperatures.
- Chill - Refrigerate promptly.
For more information about the 4 Simple Steps to Food Safety, see Lifelong Food Safety.
On the Egg Hunt
Here's how to plan a safe, egg-citing egg hunt:
- To prevent the spread of dirt and germs, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling eggs at every preparation step, including cooking, cooling, dyeing, and hiding.
- Keep hard-cooked Easter eggs refrigerated until just before the hunt. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
- Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets, and other potential sources of bacteria.
- After the hunt, discard eggs that are cracked or dirty. Bacteria can enter eggs through cracks in the shell.
- Rinse uncracked eggs, then place them back in the refrigerator until it's time to eat them.
The 2-Hour Rule
Discard eggs or food left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. On a hot day (90°F or higher), reduce this time to 1 hour.
It's Picnic Time!
Plan your next picnic with these food safety tips in mind.
- Before preparing and cooking foods, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. If soap and water won't be available, bring alcohol-based wipes or gel formulas for cleaning hands.
- When preparing fruit or veggie salads, thoroughly rinse fresh produce under running water before serving, especially fruits that require peeling or cutting, like cantaloupe and other melons.
- Take only the amount of food that will be eaten to avoid having leftovers that might not be able to be stored safely.
Use a cooler with ice or cold packs to keep these perishable foods cold:
- Cold fried chicken
- Eggs and foods containing eggs
- Cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products.
Also, fill the cooler with food and ice or cold packs. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that's partially filled.
Eating Out in Spring!
Many of your springtime celebrations may take place in restaurants. To keep your baby safe, it's important to be aware of risky foods that might be on the menu. Here's a list of foods you should avoid and why.
Caesar salad dressing, custards, and sauces that are made with raw (uncooked) eggs
Why? Harmful bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked eggs.
Raw or undercooked fish (such as sushi or sashimi) or foods made with raw fish
Why? Raw fish is more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than cooked fish.
King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and tuna (bigeye)
Why? These fish can contain high levels of methylmercury, an element that can be harmful to your unborn baby. It's okay to eat other cooked fish/seafood as long as a variety of other kinds are selected during pregnancy or while a woman is trying to become pregnant. Due to the evidence of benefits from eating fish, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces per week of a variety of fish, from choices that are lower in methlmercury. For more information, see Dietary Advice for Moms-to-Be.
Sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean)
Why? Bacteria can get into the sprout seeds through cracks in the shell before the sprouts are grown. Once this occurs, these bacteria are nearly impossible to wash out. And, thoroughly cooking sprouts doesn't guarantee that you've gotten rid of harmful bacteria.
Juices by the glass
Why? Juices that are fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass at some juice bars, for example, may not be pasteurized or otherwise treated to ensure their safety. Warning labels are not required on these products. Pregnant women and young children should avoid these juices.
Take Note, Moms-to-Be
Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can be particularly harmful to you and your unborn baby, can be found in ready-to-eat, perishable foods (dairy, meat, poultry, and seafood). To prevent foodborne illness:
- Use ready-to-eat, perishable foods as soon as possible.
- Clean the refrigerator regularly.
- Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure that the refrigerator always stays at 40° F (4° C) or below.
- Select foods carefully.
For a list of foods you shouldn't eat, see Listeria.