Summer is the height of many food truck owners busy season. The warm weather gets more people out on the streets and in line at their favorite mobile eatery. Because your customers are getting a break from school and work, it that doesn’t mean that you should take a break from being smart about food safety. If anything, food truck owners need to be more careful, since foodborne illnesses increase during the summer.
Test your summer food safety IQ by taking this short quiz. You’ll find the answers at the bottom of this post.
- Why do foodborne illnesses increase during the summer?
- a) Bacteria, including those that cause foodborne illness, tend to multiply faster when the temperatures are warm
- b) People are cooking and eating outside more, away from the refrigerators, thermometers, and washing facilities of a kitchen.
- c) Both (a) and (b).
- How can you tell if the burgers are done and safe to eat?
- a) They have been cooked for at least 4 minutes on each side.
- b) A thermometer inserted in the middle of the patties registers at least 160 °F.
- c) They are brown in the middle and no pink is showing.
- The burgers are done, and you’re ready to take them off the grill. Is it safe to put the cooked burgers back on the plate that held the raw meat?
- a) Yes, as long as you wipe off the plate with a paper towel.
- b) Yes, because the burgers are thoroughly cooked.
- c) No, because any bacteria in the raw meat or juices could contaminate the cooked burgers.
- It’s 3:00 p.m. and you just finished making fresh salsa for your diner shift which begins at 6:00 p.m. Is it safe to leave the salsa out on the counter for three hours, until you open your service window?
- a) Yes, because the acid in the tomatoes will keep harmful bacteria from growing.
- b) No, because bacteria grows rapidly in food at room temperature.
- c) No, because your family might eat it all before the party starts.
- Your truck serves homemade ice cream, and the recipe calls for eggs. You’ve heard that there has been a recent outbreak of raw eggs contaminated with Salmonella in your area. What should you do?
- a) Use an egg substitute product or pasteurized eggs instead of raw eggs.
- b) Cook and chill the milk before adding the eggs.
- c) Don’t worry about it. It’s never made you sick in the past, has it?
- 1c: The combination of warm weather and outdoor meals can be deadly
- 2b: You can’t rely on timing or the appearance of meat to tell that it’s done.
- 3c: Be smart. Keep foods apart. Don’t cross-contaminate.
- 4b: Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is over 90 °F.
So, how did you do?