Nutritionists advise precautions with outdoor food


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist CHRISTIAN GARCIA

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- A lot of people will spend the 4th of July holiday outdoors, but it's not just your skin that needs protection from the sun and heat -- so does the food you may take or store in coolers.

Cathy Richardson and her kids and their friends enjoy a picnic lunch at Zilker park.

"I've got some picky eaters," said Richardson. "We have the gamut. We have peanut butter and jelly.  We've got ham with a little bit of mayonnaise."

Richardson didn't realize it, but even with a freezer block or two, the clock is ticking on some of the food.

"If it's over 90 degrees, food should not be left out for over an hour," said Tori Jarzabkowski, a registered dietitian at Heart Hospital of Austin.

Jarzabkowski says leaving cream and egg-based foods like mayonnaise out in warm temperatures too long is one of two main areas of concern when it comes to the causes of food poisoning during cookouts or picnics. The other is....

"Not grilling the meats well enough," said Jarzabkowski. "A lot of people simply look at the color of the meat when they really should be using a food thermometer."

She recommends cooking chicken or hamburgers to 165 degrees. When it comes to storing cold and hot foods -- Jarzabkowski says 40 to 140 degrees is the danger zone.

"Anything in between there is going to put you at risk of food poisoning," said Jarzabkowski.  "That's why we recommend you keep your cold foods below 40 degrees and your hot foods above 140."

Richardson says some of this advice is new to her.  

"I just want them to eat their lunch now because we have yogurt," she said. "We have ham and mayonnaise, so they need to finish their lunch."

Nutritionists caution food poisoning doesn't always happen immediately after eating food stored at improper temperatures. They say symptoms can be severe abdominal cramping and nausea.


Health News Video
More Video