Tags: DigIn, DigIn21, MayJune, Magazine, DigInMagazine, summer tips, foodborne illness prevention, food prep

Keeping Summertime
Vegetables and Fruits Safe

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

With the summer cookout season about to be in full swing, here’s how to incorporate more color into your dishes while ensuring you keep your family safe from foodborne illness.

Learn more about keeping your family safe from foodborne illness from Big Y Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Andrea Luttrell.


Appetizers often set the tone for the meal—add as much color as possible! Whether you're offering crudités, such as cucumber spears and carrot sticks or sliced strawberries and grapes with yogurt dip, vary colors for more vitamins and minerals.



Food Safety Rule #1 - Honor the Clock

Once fruits and vegetables are cut, their expiration time quickly speeds up. When the weather is under 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the window of time they can be left to sit out of refrigeration is 2 hours. For days warmer than 90 degrees, they only have 1 hour.

Tip: Only put out the amount of food you need and replenish as needed. Additionally, place plates and bowls on ice.



Main Dishes

Offer sides that include different colors like salads with dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas paired with chopped cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and celery.



Food Safety Rule #2 - Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold

The Food Safety Danger Zone falls between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the magic zone in which bacteria love to multiply. For this reason, it's imperative to maintain proper temperatures of food.

Tip: As mentioned above, keep cold foods on ice. For hot foods, hold them in slow cookers set on warm or in hot-water bath chafing dishes over constant flame.




Step outside the usual fruit salad or strawberry shortcake and opt to grill peaches and nectarines or an aluminum foil pouch of faux bananas foster.



Food Safety Rule #3 - Wash Your Hands

The number-one cause of a foodborne illness is not the food in question. Individuals handling food tend to transfer bacteria like E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria from their hands onto the food.

Tip: Wash your hands properly after using the lavatory and in between touching surfaces and food, as well as when working between raw meats and uncooked items like salad greens and bread.

be well with Big Y Tip:
Click here to check out two of our favorite veggieful summer salad recipe inspirations.

Reviewed 05/26/23