As the Labor Day holiday approaches and you make plans for a big barbecue, don’t forget to plan your food for safety. With the recent outbreak of salmonella from fresh cantaloupes, many people may not consider serving these fresh, ripe melons. Be assured that melons can be enjoyed safely and here’s how:
— Buy locally. Buying from a reputable source can actually reduce the chances of microorganisms growing on produce.
— Wash your hands before and after handling fresh produce.
— Rinse produce with cool running water. Produce that has a thick skin — such as melons — should be scrubbed with a vegetable brush. This is very important even if you plan on peeling the item. As you slice into the melon, the knife will carry germs from the skin surface into the flesh of the fruit or vegetable.
— Do not use dishwashing or hand soap to wash produce. These items have not been tested for use on foods. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed into the produce. There are some products on the market that claim to further clean vegetables, however, research has not shown this to be true. For now, washing under cold running water is the best method.
— Remember to cut away any damaged or bruised areas because bacteria that can cause illness can thrive in these places. Always refrigerate any fresh cut items such as salad or fruit for best quality and food safety.
And as with every barbecue, keep everything clean. Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters for separate handling of raw foods and for the food after cooking. Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
If you have more questions concerning food safety please contact us at the Clark County Extension Office at 744-4682.
Don’t forget to check out our new page on our website, Plan, Cook and Freeze. Log on to our website at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark/ and follow the links to Plan, Cook and Freeze. These recipes are designed to help families make healthy food choices as you plan and prepare meals for later use.
Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension Service agent for family and consumer sciences.