Summer time is upon us, and families are packing up picnics, camping, and having backyard barbecues and cookouts. In the summer heat how can we keep our food safe to eat? How long can I leave the meal out as people are serving themselves on the buffet?

When preparing any meal keep in mind the four steps of food safety from the USDA:

Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

• CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

• SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!

• COOK: Cook to proper temperature

• CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

Food Purchase and Storage

Food safety begins as you purchase your food and supplies. Select meat and poultry last to ensure safe food temperature as you travel home. This also assists in avoiding cross contamination of your foods by having raw meats placed in plastic bag in your cart; it prevents juices from getting on your other food selections. Always refrigerate perishables within two hours, unless temperatures are above 90 degrees, then refrigerate within one hour. Freeze any meats or poultry you will not be using within one or two days. Thaw safely as it will assist in cooking more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.


Marinade is a savory, acidic sauce in which a food is soaked to enrich its flavor or to tenderize it. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Poultry and cubed meat or stew meat can be marinated up to two days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb roasts, chops, and steaks may be marinated up to five days. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it. However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.

Keep All Utensils Clean

Keep all items clean that you will be using to eat off of, as well as cook with. Don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.

Cook food to Proper temperatures

Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria


• Whole poultry: 165 °F

• Poultry breasts: 165 °F

• Ground poultry: 165 °F

• Hamburgers, beef: 160 °F

• Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops):

• Medium rare 145 °F

• Medium 160 °F

• All cuts of pork: 160 °F


Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours (One hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).

Helpful tools for learning more about food safety

Out of AMES, Iowa - A new application available for Apple® devices - iPhone® and iPod touch® - helps protect consumers from bad leftovers. The "4-Day Throw Away" application, available now from the App Store, is an extension of the 4-Day Throw Away campaign, which educates consumers about the dangers of foodborne illnesses and the four-day guideline for eating, freezing or throwing away leftovers.

"The four-day guideline is a great standard to follow if you are unsure whether a leftover food item is OK to eat or not," said Julie Albrecht, UNL Extension food specialist. "But some foods are OK to eat for longer periods of time, while some should actually be thrown out sooner."

Many consumers don't realize how quickly food leftovers can become unsafe or spoil. The application, along with the rest of the campaign, is not only informing consumers about food leftovers, but helping them to practice safe leftover usage and food storage in their homes.

Protecting you from bad leftovers

The "4-Day Throw Away" application features hundreds of individual food items which can be easily searched by food categories or keywords. Listed under each food item are storage recommendations, reheating instructions and special considerations. The application also gives information on related foodborne illnesses, with details on symptoms, duration, complications and prevention

"We really wanted to provide as many details as possible for this application, and our team pulled together lots of great information from the USDA and compiled it into an easy-to-use format," said Ruth Litchfield, ISU Extension nutrition specialist.

The "4-Day Throw Away" application can be downloaded from the App Store on your computer or device. For more information about the 4-Day Throw Away campaign, visit the website or Facebook page, or view several videos on YouTube starring the giant, red 4 mascot.

About 4-Day Throw Away

The 4-Day Throw Away campaign, which features the 4 as its mascot, is educating consumers about the dangers of foodborne illnesses and the four-day guideline for eating, freezing or throwing away leftovers. It is funded by a United States Department of Agriculture grant and is a partnership between Iowa State University Extension and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

Another helpful online tool

The Virtual Food Inspector Game was created in Second Life® to teach participants about foodborne hazards. Since the use of virtual communities for adult education is relatively new to research, this project dealt with the feasibility and effectiveness of engaging adults with a media in which they feel comfortable. The activity was created to allow participants to travel around the virtual kitchen and locate hazards in much the same manner as a real life food inspector. Participants reported positively about their user experience, the educational content, and the social aspects of the module.

Keeping your families food safe is essential to complete your great summer time memories. Take time to ensure the safety of your family barbecue and gatherings. For more food safety information call the Montgomery County Extension Office, Joy Dugan Health & Human Sciences Purdue Extension Educator: (765)364-6363 or email your question to

Other Purdue Extension, Montgomery County Educational Offerings:

Speaking of Summer Time Fun! The Montgomery County Fair: July 12-17, auction July 18 at 6 p.m.

Join us for a 100th Anniversary Celebration of 4-H in Montgomery County: July 7 at 1 p.m.

Mini 4-H Day Camp: June 11 at Montgomery County Fairgrounds, call Extension Office to reserve your child's spot! (765)364-6363, Contact: Tanner Wilson

The Mini 4-H day camp is designated to assist Mini 4-H'ers in meeting new 4-H friends. The camp also allows Mini 4-H'ers to begin completing activities for their projects, hear about and experience other projects, and learn about requirements for exhibiting their projects at the fair. This year, the camp theme is "What do you have Cooking", and you are invited and encouraged to attend. The camp will be held Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the 4-H Building. The 4-H Junior Leaders will be assisting with the camp activities. A Junior Leader is a 4-H'er who is in grades 7-12 and has experience with the 4-H program. These young adults serve as mentors to younger 4-H members.

Joy Dugan is the Purdue Extension-Montgomery County County Extension Director and Health and Human Sciences Educator, Montgomery County. She may be contacted by calling (765) 364-6363.