Seen in District Administration:
5 reasons this district is expanding access to telehealth

Don’t forget to invite food safety to your next BBQ!

Follow these 6 food safety tips to enjoy delicious and fun outdoor meals with your family this summer.
6 minute read
June 4, 2021
Hazel Team
The editorial staff at Hazel are a diverse group of writers and professionals.

Leer en español

If, like many families, you rely on your child’s school or other agencies to secure food, check with your district to see if they provide meals during the summer months. You can also use the USDA’s “Meals for Kids Site Finder” to quickly and easily find nearby meal sites.

There are few things that say “summer” more than a picnic or BBQ. But did you know that foodborne illness (food poisoning) cases peak during the summer? This increase is no coincidence. The summer months bring warmer temperatures that allow bacteria in food to multiply faster. As families tend to cook away from the kitchen (outdoor BBQs, picnics, campsites, etc.), cleanliness and food storage become more complex. By following these vital food safety tips, your family can enjoy delicious and fun outdoor meals together all summer long. 

1. Start food safety practices at the grocery store.

When you shop for your groceries, make the meat, poultry, and seafood section your last stop before checking out. Once you’ve picked these items, it’s a good idea to keep them separate from other food in your cart and shopping bags. Place these foods in the refrigerator in sealed plastic bags as soon as you get home. If you aren’t planning to use the foods within a few days, put them in the freezer. When you are ready to transport meat, seafood, or poultry, try to use an insulated cooler or keep the food on ice (keep food below 40°F).

QUICK TIP: Use the individual bags in the produce section for extra protection between meats and other groceries. 

Cleanliness is essential to prevent foodborne illnesses.

The germs that can make your family sick can survive on food, your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly and often

Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meats, seafood, poultry, or uncooked eggs. It’s also important to remind your family to wash their hands:

  • Before eating
  • After using the restroom or helping someone in the restroom
  • After changing a diaper
  • After touching trash
  • After coughing, sneezing, or nose blowing
  • After interacting with an animal (petting, feeding, cleaning up after, etc.)
  • Before and after treating a cut or injury

QUICK TIP: If you plan to do any food preparation outside, be sure to bring moist towelettes to clean your hands. 

3. Keep cooking surfaces and equipment clean.

Make certain that food surfaces (countertops/cutting boards) and utensils (knives, forks, tongs, etc.) are clean when you prepare your food. Wash surfaces and utensils after each use with hot soapy water. If you choose to use dishcloths in place of paper towels for clean-up and drying, wash these cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

If you are using a grill for cooking your food, use a damp cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you decide to use a wire bristle brush to clean the grill, check for wire bristles that may have come loose. These stray bristles can stick in food and cause injury. (See more grill safety tips here). 

4. Wash all fruits and veggies. 

Before preparing, chopping, or eating fruits and vegetables, rinse them under plain running water. Wash fruits even if you plan to cut away or peel the skin (bananas, oranges, melons, etc.). You can scrub firm produce like potatoes or cucumbers with a clean produce brush. 

If you find that a piece of produce is damaged or bruised, cut away the area and rinse the item under running water, but do not use soap, bleach, or commercial produce washes.

QUICK TIP: Don’t wash meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood. Washing these items can spread harmful germs around your kitchen.

5. Separate foods during preparation, cooking, and serving.

Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and any of their juices away from all other food. You can prevent cross-contamination by using separate plates and utensils for preparing raw meat items and ready-to-eat foods, like raw fruits and vegetables. Some families find it helpful to designate specific cutting boards for meat, fish, poultry, and fresh produce. After cutting and preparing raw meats, poultry, and seafood, be sure to thoroughly wash your cutting board, knives, and other surfaces with hot, soapy water.

If your recipe asks you to marinate seafood, meat, or poultry, place the marinaded food in a covered dish in the refrigerator. Do not reuse marinades after they have had raw meat in the container. Immediately discard any leftover marinade as soon as you begin cooking. If you plan to brush extra marinade on your dish after cooking, be sure to set aside some unused marinade beforehand and use new utensils. 

When grilling poultry, seafood, or meat, never reuse the container or plate that held raw food; use a new, clean plate for all cooked food. 

QUICK TIP: Immediately remove dishes and utensils used for raw meats to avoid mixing them up with clean plates and utensils. 

6. Cook and serve your food at the correct temperatures.

Always use a food thermometer when grilling outside. The food thermometer will confirm meat and poultry are hot enough to kill harmful germs. If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can get a free one from USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline by calling 1-888-674-6854.

Many people mistake the color of meat as an indication that meat is safe to consume. Meat and poultry on the grill often brown quickly on the outside without cooking entirely on the inside. You can use the chart below for guidance on safe internal food temperatures: 

QUICK TIP: If you are using a smoker, keep the temperature between  225°F and 300°F. 

6. Keep your hot and cold foods out of the danger zone.

Bacteria grow fast between 40°F - 140°F. Internal food temperatures within this range are considered a danger zone. Keep cold foods cold by storing food in the refrigerator, a cooler, or on ice. The internal temperature for cold foods should be 40°F or below. 

The same rule applies to hot foods. Keep your hot foods hot. Internal temperatures should not drop below. 140°F. If your hot food cools quickly, you can reheat it, but do not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (one hour if the outside temperature is over 90°F)

QUICK TIP: Quicker cooling helps prevent foods from entering the danger zone. Divide leftovers into shallow containers and place them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Healthy students. Healthy schools.

See how Hazel Health can keep your students healthy and ready to learn
Parents: Let us know you are interested in Hazel for your school
We will reach out to your school district to let them know that parents at their school are interested in Hazel Health services.
Learn how Hazel can improve access to care for K-12 students
A member of our team will be in touch to talk about how we partner with schools and school nurses to expand access to health services - whether students are learning in school or at home.
COVID-19: Learn how Hazel can improve access to care for K-12 students
Hazel services are offered with $0 patient responsibility for all students through the 2020-21 school year for at-home or in-school doctor visits, due to these unprecedented times. Get in touch with us to learn more.
Let us know you are interested in adding Hazel to your insurance provider network
Parent Story
A father was concerned when his son was showing COVID-19 symptoms. His school uses Hazel, so he was able to contact a Hazel doctor from home.

The Hazel provider recommended he get a COVID-19 test and shared resources to help find a testing center in their area. The father was eager to help his son feel better and appreciated being able to quickly get answers and advice.
Nurse Story
A student came into the nurse's office with a sprained ankle. After icing her foot, she still was in pain, so the nurse called Hazel. Thankfully, her family had provided consent for over-the-counter pain relief because she was able to take some medicine and return to class feeling better.

After the visit, the Hazel provider reached out to the school nurse to check on the student’s injury. The nurse shared that the student’s ankle was improving, and she appreciated the follow-up.
Parent Story
A mother noticed her son was getting low on his asthma medication. She tried to schedule a visit with his doctor to refill his prescription, but no appointments were available. She didn’t want her son to run out of medicine, so she reached out to Hazel.

The provider was able to send the refill to a local pharmacy within one day. The mother was happy that her son would have the medicine he needed. She was also amazed at how easy and fast the entire process was.
Student Story
A student was coughing and sneezing a lot, but her family wasn’t sure if she was sick or had allergies. Thankfully, her school used Hazel, and they could get an answer.

After talking with the school nurse and the Hazel provider about her symptoms and medical history, the student was happy to find out it was likely allergies. She got some medicine and returned to class feeling better.
Student Story
During the pandemic, a high school student was having a hard time coping. She was sad about COVID-19 impacting her senior year, and she was worried about the state of the world. The student was also struggling with some personal conflicts, and she felt she didn't have the right support at home. After discussing her feelings, a Hazel doctor connected her with resources that she described as “life-changing.” She was very grateful and shared that she didn't know where to go for help before Hazel.
Parent Story
Shortly after COVID-19 began, a student began to develop tics. Her parents took her to a neurologist, but they wanted to get her into counseling as well. The student’s mother was having a hard time finding answers to her questions and didn’t know where to start the process, so she turned to Hazel.

The Hazel doctor listened as the mother shared her concerns and frustrations. Hazel reassured her that they would find the right services for her child. After the initial visit, the Hazel doctor partnered with the school counselor and the student’s mother to identify resources and counseling services that are a good fit.
Student Story
A student came into the nurse’s office because his vision went blurry. The Hazel doctor looked at his eyes, but he did not see any injury. As he asked him questions about his symptoms, he started to sense that he was down about something. After a few minutes, the student shared that he was really sad because his mom was recently diagnosed with cancer. He explained that he feels worried, and it’s hard for him to focus.

Hazel called home, and the student’s mother confirmed her diagnosis. They discussed how to help manage the child’s stress, and Hazel offered to connect the child with counseling resources through the school. The mother was very grateful for the guidance and was eager to get her child help during a stressful time.
Counselor Story
Hazel Health has been integral this year in getting our students the mental health services needed to help them live healthy lives.  The staff has been attentive, prompt, and resourceful. There is an evident sense of caring for the work they do and the students they serve. It has been a pleasure partnering with Hazel Health in providing mental wellness for our Garland ISD families.