Summer Food Safety

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA

The summer months bring to mind images of outdoor grilling, picnics, and fun. Check out these ideas for easy clean-up, food safety, and healthy picnic fare.

Before you plan picnic’s and BBQ’s keep these tips in mind:

  • Pack plenty of ice around cold foods inside an insulated cooler to keep the temperature below 40 degrees.
  • Transport the tightly-closed cooler in the back seat of your air conditioned care instead of in your hot trunk.
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Bring Disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces and soap and water to clean hands often.
  • Using a meat thermometer, make sure ground meats reach at least 160°F and poultry reaches 165°F.
  • And remember, don’t leave food outside in hot weather for more than one to two hours for the best food safety.


Avoid Cross-Contamination 

Cross-contamination is the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another and typically spreads through food, people, equipment or work surfaces. 
Cross-contamination can occur for instance if you’re cutting raw chicken on a cutting board and then use the same knife or board for vegetables without disinfecting first.

To avoid cross-contamination, always wash your hands thoroughly and clean countertops, cutting boards, and utensils that come in contact with raw meat with hot, soapy water or a disinfectant.  Disinfecting Wipes are a better choice than sponges or dishrags that often spread germs, rather than kill them.


Curry-Lime Chicken Thighs with Tomato-Lima Bean Salsa

Serves 4


  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup red cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spices
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 ½ cup lima beans, cooked in water for 4 minutes, then drained and cooled
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro



  1. Combine yogurt, ginger, curry powder and lime juice. Add chicken thighs and turn to coat with yogurt mixture. Allow to marinate in refrigerator 1 to 4 hours.
  2. In small saucepan, combine vinegar and water; add pickling spices, 2 teaspoons salt, sugar, red pepper flakes and celery seed. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Place lima beans, tomatoes and onion in container. Using a fine mesh sieve, pour the warm vinegar mixture through it and into the vegetable mixture. Add cilantro. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  4. Prepare grill or broiler. Remove chicken from marinade, draining excess. Season thighs on both sides with remaining teaspoon salt. Place chicken on grill or under broiler to sear. Turn over once until well browned, cooking for a total of 6-8 minutes. Continue to cook chicken, turning to avoid burning. Grill or broil chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 170º F, about another 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, place about 1/3 cup salsa on each plate and place a grilled thigh next to the salsa.


Nutrition Information, Per Serving:

400 calories; 19 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 980 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 10 g sugars; 33 g protein

Recipe: National Chicken Council.