Summer Food Safety: 4 Simple Food Safety Tips for Families (Learn the 2-2-4 Rule!) by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND

2 years ago

Summer Food Safety: 4 Simple Food Safety Tips for Families (Learn the 2-2-4 Rule!)

Holiday barbequespicnics and vacations to the beach with family make for a memorable summer. But how do you make sure that the food you serve or take with you is safe to eat?

Foodborne illnesses tend to increase during the summer months because bacteria multiply faster when it’s warm. To protect your family from these illnesses during the summer, safe food handling when eating and preparing outdoors is critical. Follow these simple food safety guidelines, recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

1. Take a Cooler With You

Cold food should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Once outdoors, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold longer.

2. Don't Cross-contaminate

If you’re taking raw meat, poultry or seafood with you, keep it securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from contaminating foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.

3. Clean Your Produce

Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler – including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

4. Mind Your Leftovers

When it comes to leftovers, an easy way to remember food storage guidelines is simple: two hours, 2 inches, four days – these numbers make up the “2-2-4 rule:”

  • Two hours is how long foods can safely stay at room temperature after you’ve taken them out of the oven or off the grill – or, in the case of cold foods, how long they can safely stay out of the refrigerator or insulated cooler. However, if room temperature is 90 degrees F or higher, cool foods down within an hour.
  • The 2-inch rule means that you should store leftover foods in shallow containers no more than 2 inches thick, so they can cool evenly and quickly. If containers are too deep, it takes too long for the food in the middle to cool down.
  • The last rule says to use your refrigerated leftovers within four days or toss them out. But leftovers are usually delicious, so chances are they’ll be long gone before then.

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Picnic Baskets $20 & Up
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Coolers $20 & Up

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