Don't serve a side of food poisoning at your next outdoor party

Summer in the South is all about sticky sweet BBQ sauce, pecan pie and enjoying backyard...

Summer in the South is all about sticky sweet BBQ sauce, pecan pie and enjoying backyard patio gatherings with friends and family. When hosting a backyard barbecue, you want to make sure your drinks are plentiful, your guests are happy and your food is safe. Next time you host a summer BBQ, share your favorite recipes, not food poisoning. Here are five tips to make your Atlanta get together delicious and safe.

  1. Keep foods separated. It's simple to throw together a tray of goodies for the grill, but don't let raw meats and fish come in contact with vegetable sides, such as corn on the cob or veggie kebabs. You're asking for cross-contamination and a belly ache, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  2. Cool those sides. If your BBQ is potluck style, prep an area to keep the guest's dishes cool until it's time to serve them. Fill large serving bowls, totes and trays with ice to serve as cooling platforms for the side dishes. If someone brings a warm dish, have a roaster oven or slow cooker available to keep the food steamy hot. In a pinch, you can keep the dish in your oven on a low setting.
  3. Use new utensils. It's easy to toss a steak on the grill with a pair of tongs and use it to flip the meat throughout the cooking process. This is also a great way to get food poisoning. Bacteria in the juices from the raw meat can hide on those tongs. Using them again could transfer the bacteria back to the cooked piece. Reach for new, clean utensils each time you handle food cooking on the grill.
  4. Serve BBQ-friendly foods. When in doubt, create a menu that's simple to preserve during a hot Atlanta day. Serve up a buffet of fruit salad, potato chips, a slow cooker filled with baked beans and a tray of BBQ pulled pork sandwiches that can be tucked away in your oven to stay warm.
  5. Watch the clock. Perishable foods can sit out for serving buffet style, but in as little as two hours, they are no longer safe to eat, according to Prevention magazine. So, put your food away after everyone has been served. Once your guests finish their plates, ask if anyone wants seconds and bring out the requested foods for another round.

Even when you're careful, food poisoning can sneak up on you. If you notice abdominal discomfort, vomiting, a fever, a headache or weakness, it's time to see a doctor in Atlanta. Symptoms of food poisoning can begin in as little as two hours after enjoying the BBQ, according to PubMed Health.

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