No one wants to be sick in the summer, especially from tainted food. Food left out in the heat or improperly cooked is a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella.

If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want it in your body, whether it’s chemicals, preservatives or harmful bacteria (good bacteria for a healthy gut is OK). If you are as concerned about the foods you buy to eat, be equally mindful on handling them safely.

Keep the sizzle in your summer with these food safety tips from the nonprofit Stop Foodborne Illness (

Remember the two-hour rule. Hot or cold foods left out a room temperature are susceptible to harmful bacteria. Toss anything left out after two hours. If the temperature is over is 90° F, toss after one hour.

Keep coolers filled with ice and well-insulated. Store food items and beverages in separate coolers since you’ll reach for beverages more often. Keep both shaded under an umbrella or covered with a blanket out of the direct sun.

Pack a cooler filled with ice in your car when grocery shopping on hot days (e.g. 90° F). Place perishable foods last in your grocery basket and keep them in the cooler for the drive home.

Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate utensils (e.g. tongs, spatulas), cutting boards and dishes when handling raw meats, poultry or fish, and keep food items in separate containers on ice (or refrigerated) until ready to cook. Wash all prep items thoroughly before and after each use (this include your hands!).

Take a temperature. Use a food/meat thermometer to determine if food is cooked to a safe temperature. Relying on taste, smell, texture and color can be deceiving. Here are guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • 145°F for whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
  • 160°F for ground meats, such as beef and pork
  • 165°F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey
  • 165°F for leftovers and casseroles
  • 145°F for fresh ham (raw)
  • 145°F for fin fish or cook until flesh is opaque


Contaminated foods can be hard to detect, and the consequences from eating them could be deadly. When in doubt, throw it out.


Health tip: Consider precooking meats before placing on high. Photo Ermakova

Healthy Cooking Tip: Grilling and Cancer Risk

Grilling meat, poultry and fish at high heat is a potential cancer risk.  Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, Director of Nutrition Programs for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shared this,

“AICR advises caution when grilling meat, fish or poultry because when meat is exposed to high heat, chemicals form that lab studies show can damage DNA – a potential risk for cancer. AICR recommends if you choose to grill, limit red and processed meats, both of which link to colorectal cancer; instead choose poultry and fish; marinate all meats first; pre-cook meats in an oven to shorten time on the grill; and grill vegetables and fruits which do not form those chemicals at high heat.”

Alice Bender will join me August 7 on Fearless Fabulous You! to discuss more topics and tips related to reducing your risk for cancer through diet and lifestyle.

Read more healthy tips for grilling and food safety in my article out this week at The Epoch Times (LINK)

Healthy fresh summer vegetables grilling on a BBQ outdoors in the garden with zucchini, potato wedges, asparagus, tomato and corn on the cob garnished with herbs. Photo: Dreamstime