Avoid food-illness in the coming 3-day weekends

Local News

Hot temperatures and a three-day weekend can add up to sunburn and dehydration — but they also mean you need to be extra careful about food, if you’re eating outdoors.

Health officials say Hawaii has a high rate of salmonella and other food-borne illnesses — and high temperatures mean you’ll want to be extra careful at your barbecues and potlucks.

We’ve all been to gatherings where a beautiful spread of food — feeds us — and then sits out.

Peter Oshiro, Dept. Of Health program manager for Environmental Health, says, “That can be problematic and I wouldn’t be surprised that’s how lot of people are getting ill. Especially in our tropical climate where our outside temperatures are between 85 and 95 degrees all year ’round, it’s really, really critical that you watch the time that the food is left out.”

Oshiro says food should sit no more than two hours — before you refrigerate it.

After four hours — the food has to be tossed. It will make people sick.

Oshiro says, “So once you’ve cooked the food, put it out, and people have finished eating, it’s a good idea to start putting things away. And the best way to do it, is actually to portion it, ziploc bags, and put it in a cooler of ice. That’s the fastest way to cool things down.”

Oshiro says another benefit, is that if the food is already bagged up — it’s easier for people to take home.

Cooler safety is another thing. Raw meats, even in zip-top bags — should be in their own cooler — so they don’t contaminate canned or bottled drinks — or ready-to-eat items.

Experts will tell you that your family’s food safety begins when you’re grocery shopping.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your produce — and your meats — separated in your shopping carts and in the bags used to take them home.

But when you get home, there’s another problem.

Oshiro says, “It’s really bad that home refrigerators are actually not designed for food safety. Everybody’s home refrigerator you notice, has fruits and vegetables on the bottom.”

That means, juices from raw meats, poultry or seafood stored above them — can contaminate your produce.

Ready-to-eat items, or foods you will eat raw, should be kept on the top shelf.

BONUS CONTENT: IT’S NOT THE MAYO’S FAULT!

Did you know it’s not the mayonnaise in macaroni or potato salad that can make you sick?

Oshiro says, “It’s what they call a non-potentially hazardous food.”

The problem is actually the macaroni or potatoes.

“Any cooked starch, once you cook starch, it becomes what they call a hazardous food.”

Oshiro says cooling the pasta and potatoes before combining it with mayo and other ingredients — using clean hands — and keeping the mixture cool — is the safer way to go.

“Historically mac salads have caused a lot of problems, it’s because of the way we handle it, we mix it, and then we leave it out.”

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