Eat and drink healthfully this summer!
Parties, picnics and barbeques – meals outside are one of the loveliest things about summer – but we do need to take a little bit of extra care with what we eat and drink.
You might find you get a few more upset tummies generally as you get older. Levels of acid in our stomach lower with age making it easier for bugs to take hold – and if they do, our immune system can be a bit sluggish to fight back. Because of this, it’s important to be more careful with how we prepare party foods and store any leftovers.
“We see a definite increase in food poisoning cases in summer,” explains Lydia Buchtmann from the Food Safety Information Council. “Especially around Christmas when we often cook for more people than usual.”
When we are out and about in the festive season, it can also be a bit tricky to remember to keep drinking. Staying hydrated in summer is just as important, to keep your energy up and help your health.
To help you stay well and keep up with the celebrations this summer, here are a few simple tips from the Food Safety Information Council:
Tips for safe eating
- Make sure your fridge is kept at 5C or lower. Germs can’t multiply at temperatures this low. Don’t forget that the more you put in a fridge the warmer it gets so double check the temperature if the fridge gets full.
- When deciding who should bring what to a party, think distance. Anyone who lives more than one hour away from the party venue should bring things that won’t go off easily like cakes, biscuits, Christmas puddings, crackers and breads. Those who live closer can bring items that need to stay cool like salads, cheeses, cooked meats, etc. Remember to pack them with ice blocks in a cooler.
- Keep raw and cooked food apart. Carry burgers, sausages and steaks etc. in one bag and any other food or drink in another. And never use the same utensils to put raw meat on the grill as you do to take cooked meat off it.
- Get a meat thermometer. It’s the best way to tell if barbecued food is done all the way through. The inside should measure 75C at least.
- If you are cooking something in advance, cool it quickly. As soon as it stops steaming, put it in the fridge or freezer – don’t leave it sit to get cold then chill it.
- Between 5C and 60C is known as the danger zone. It’s at this point when bugs can multiply. Try and limit the amount of time food spends in the danger zone to under two hours – anything that’s been left out for more than four hours should be thrown away.
- To reduce food waste, use small serving bowls or plates. Only put small portions of riskier foods like dips, soft cheeses, cooked meats, seafood, chicken, pate etc. out at time leaving the rest in the fridge. Swap for a fresh bowl every two hours.
- Avoid dishes containing raw eggs. Things like mayonnaise, mousse, tiramisu or egg nog.
- Give leftovers a miss. While it’s okay for younger adults in the house to eat leftovers within 2-3 days, anyone 60+ should only keep things for one day just to be safe.
Tips for staying hydrated
- Keep a drink close by. Have a jug or bottle of water – or another fluid – near you, where you can see it and reach it. It makes it more likely you’ll have a sip.
- Use a bright cup. It’ll catch your eye more easily and remind you to finish your drink.
- Add fruit and veggies to your meals. Water-filled produce like cucumber, lettuce and watermelon also top up your fluid levels.
- Make it easy to stay refreshed. If wobbly hands make holding cups trickier, picking one with a handle on each side helps things stay stable.
- Choose a drink you like. All fluid hydrates (except alcohol). If you don’t feel like water, why not have tea, coffee, soups, juice or squash?
Wishing you a healthy and happy festive season with your friends and family!