Published on June 27, 2016

Hot tips for summer food safety

Safety should always be on your mind when handling food.

That’s especially true if you’re an older adult, says Ed Kratowicz, RD, MPH, a dietitian with Mercy LIFE.

Food in Cooler“Older people are at higher risk for food poisoning,” Kratowicz says.

One reason? Your body doesn’t rid itself of the bacteria that can infect food as easily as it used to. Plus, your immune system weakens as you age.

“That makes it harder for your body to fight off the illnesses those bacteria can cause,” Kratowicz says.

It’s particularly important to keep food safe during the summer, when hot temperatures and power outages can cause food to spoil quickly.

Follow these tips from Kratowicz to help lower your risk of food poisoning:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Rinse raw fruits and vegetables in water before you prepare or eat them.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry and fish separate from fruits and vegetables when making a meal.
  • Don’t let food sit out more than two hours after cooking—and not more than one hour on a day that’s hotter than 90 degrees.
  • Make sure your refrigerator stays below 41 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees or lower.
  • In case of a power outage, keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours—or 24 hours if half-full.