Yay! Summer weather is finally here!! The season of eating outdoors!
Whether you are headed to a backyard barbecue, afternoon in the park, or a special road trip across the country, you're likely toting some food with you to share with others. Food is social. It's fun. ...but Food poisoning is NOT.
Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans will get food poisoning and 128,000 people will be admitted to hospital according to the CDC. All those food borne bacteria love the summer heat just as much as we do!
Additionally, at the University of Cincinnati, a study by Scott Belcher, an endocrine biologist, found the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) leaches out of plastic containers 55 times faster when exposed to heat compared to normal room temperature plastic. Heated plastic should be avoided, especially when it contains food. This includes plastic containers left in a hot car, exposed to hot sunlight, or heated with hot food placed in it. ** important to note that 'BPA-free plastics often uses BPS or BPF as replacement chemicals. Similar leaching and health effects have been shown.
So what should we do to keep our food safe and still enjoy the outdoors, here's my 4 simple tips:
1. Keep it COLD- Bacteria thrive in 40F-140F (5C-60C), so do what you can to keep it cold (or cook it to above 140F). At our home, we always have a few DALCINI™containers in the freezer that we grab, fill and go. Better yet, fill it with frozen fruit and you can use the container as a cold pack for other items. Our fave cold picnic treats are frozen PB&J sandwiches, frozen grapes and frozen pineapple which we always have prepped in the freezer for quick 'grab-and-go' outdoor fun. For extended time outdoors, pack a cooler and fill it with 25% ice. Be sure to keep it in the shade when you get to your destination!
2. The 2 hour Rule- CDC recommends that foods never be unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours, and only 1 hour on 90F (32C) days. It's easy to lose track of time, so set yourself an easy reminder to pull the food away. In our family we write an "expiry time" on our DALCINI™ containers . You can also set a timer on your watch. Use whatever reminder trick that works best for you!
3. Avoid BPA/BPS leaching- As stated above, research has shown 55X faster BPA leaching into foods when heated (sun, warm car, or hot food) compared to room temperature containers. Glass and stainless steel are great options to prevent BPA leaching. However, its important to note that most class containers have plastic lids, so still good to keep protected for sun and heat. Also be aware that some stainless steel containers use a BPA containing resin sealant, so be sure to look for seamless interiors. No seams, no sealants! If you are using plastic, it's best to store the containers in your dark, chilled cooler, removing it only to select food and return.
4. When returning home,wash all containers thoroughly. This includes removing any plastic or silicone seals. Bacteria love tight corners and crevices. Separate liners, straws, lids and clean each piece separately. Then dry them fully before storing them back in the cupboards. If you own DALCINI™ containers then you already know to simply place them in the dishwasher. And Done.
So, what are you waiting for? Go on, pack some good food and enjoy your summer! ;-)