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Food Safety


Fight BAC!

Did you know that one out of four people suffer from food borne illness each year? Promote safe food practices to reduce illness!


During warm weather it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer weather may be ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues, but they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Below are eight super-easy steps for you to Fight BAC!®.  Be a superhero, not the super villain that ruined Uncle Ted's bar-b-que and caused a backup at the bathroom door.

  1. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  In case you did not catch that -  WASH YOUR HANDS!
  2. Marinating Mandate. Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  3. Hot, Hot, Hot. When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  4. Temperature Gauge. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  5. Where's the Beef? Chicken and Fish? Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium.  Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
  6. Stay Away from that Same Old Plate. When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. And in hot weather (above 90°F) foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  7. Icebox Etiquette. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.
  8. 8th Verse, Same as the First. From my mom to you - "Oh for crying out loud, wash your hands"

Dean D. Peterson PE, REHS

San Mateo County Environmental Health Director

The Fight BAC!® Web site at: http://www.fightbac.org/

Free UC ANR Food Safety Publications
  • Don't Give Kids a Tummyache
  • Food Safety in Your Home Vegetable Garden
  • Growing Seed Sprouts at Home (PDF 193 KB)
  • Food Safety Tips for Edible Landscape Plants and Garden Produce
  • Guidelines for Food Safety During Short-Term Power Outages: Consumer Fact Sheet (PDF 401KB)
  • Publication on Food Safety Tips for Edible Landscape Plants and Garden Produce (PDF 71KB)
  • Video Library of online educational materials about food safety and preservation


From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Visit the  Gateway to Government Food Safety Information 

Eating Outdoors, Handling Food Safely          

Picnic and barbecue season offers lots of opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. But these warm weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly.

To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical.

To see more please download the USDA Food Fact Sheets, available in English or Spanish.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). TTY 1-800-256-7072.


UC Davis Food Safety Links


UC Davis Food Safety Programs


More Food Safety Information


Other Links

  • Information about Outbreak of Foodborne Illness - FDA
  • Maryland’s Center for Food Safety and Security Systems:
    Bibliographies and reference citation database in the area of microbial food safety, compiled by Dr. Robert L. Buchanan, are now available through FoodRisk.org.  The databases are organized in 12 files according to the main subject matter such as risk assessment, seafood, HACCP, Listeria monocytogenes, etc.  Once downloaded, the databases can be searched, queried, and used to develop reports using the capabilities available within Microsoft Access.  The databases are updated approximately every quarter.  To check the CFS3 literature database go to: http://www.cfs3.umd.edu/databases/