Having picnics and barbecues in the summer months can be great fun, but they can also be a prime way to get food poisoning. Here are 14 summer foods that can really make you sick, and that you’ll either want to avoid or take extra care in preparing and storing when the weather is warm.
1) Hamburgers – Burgers can make you sick easily if they aren’t cooked properly. If the inside is still raw, and doesn’t reach the proper temperature of at least 160 degrees, E. coli bacteria can quickly start to grow. Then the burgers could make you ill even if you refrigerate them properly.
2) Oysters – It’s no secret that oysters can be a dangerous gamble, especially when eaten raw. Make sure you know your supplier, and that you keep raw oysters very cold. That can reduce the risk of getting sick, because it helps stop bacteria from growing. If you’re going to fry or otherwise cook oysters, make sure they reach a safe internal temperature, as well.
3) Melons – Contamination of melons generally comes from listeria and other pathogens that are present on the peel. To try to reduce the potential for illness, it’s important to wash melons thoroughly before you cut into them or peel them. There are scrubbing brushes and produce washes that can also be used.
4) Sprouts – Many types of sprouts have contamination issues and concerns. The sprouts should be thoroughly cleaned to avoid the risk as much as possible. You can also saute them so they aren’t raw, and that will often kill bacteria and other harmful things.
5) Macaroni salad – Anything with mayonnaise in it can quickly go bad in the summer heat, and macaroni salad is a prime candidate for spoilage. If you’re going to be leaving the salad out more than a few minutes, make sure you put its bowl into a bowl of ice. That will help to keep it cold.
6) Caesar salads – Because Caesar salad dressing contains raw eggs when it’s made the traditional way, it can quickly spoil when it gets too warm. By making sure you keep it cold, you’ll reduce the risk of making anyone – including yourself – sick.
7) Homemade ice cream – When you make ice cream at home you don’t get the same level of preservatives that you get from store-bought choices. Keep your ice cream frozen, use clean utensils when scooping it out of its container, and don’t keep any leftover portions for more than a few days.
8) Green salads – The potential is high for salad greens to become contaminated. Washing them thoroughly before serving can help reduce the risk and remove anything that could become a problem.
9) Deviled eggs – Like other mayo-based options, deviled eggs need to be kept cold. That can be hard to do in the summertime, but using ice or keeping things refrigerated is important.
10) Potato Salad – With mayo as one of its main ingredients, potato salad is a common food when it comes to making people sick during the summer. Keep it cold, and you’ll have less risk.
11) Chicken – Salmonella is common in chicken that isn’t cooked properly. Make sure all chicken hits the right internal temperature, and refrigerate unused portions promptly so they don’t grow bacteria.
12) Tomato – Like many other fruits and vegetables, there is the potential for bacteria on the outside of the tomato skin. Clean the tomato thoroughly before you slice it, and keep it cold for you and your guests to enjoy.
13) Charred meats – Because charred meats can grow bacteria, keep them either warm or cold. Room temperature is not a good choice, as that raises your chances of getting sick.
14) Leftovers – Leftovers should be refrigerated quickly and used within a few days. Waiting too long or letting them sit out too long can mean they will make you sick.
You don’t have to completely stay away from these foods. After all, what would summer be without them? Just make sure that you follow good food safety practices. When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to waste food than risk making yourself or your friends and family very sick.