Summer heat and holiday gatherings with family and friends don't mix well. When an expectant mother eats at one of these events she needs to be careful that the food she eats has been properly washed and handled, scrubbed and rinsed and cold foods are cold and warm foods kept warm.
Family gatherings during the Fourth of July holiday and other summer events are special times usually centering on great foods. An expectant mother should avoid certain foods on Fourth of July picnics. Being careful of the kind of food consumed whether homemade or ready-to-eat. Foods that are perishable or spoil outside of the refrigerator do not fare well in extreme heat thus posing a greater risk to a pregnant woman.
Ice used in drinks must be kept separate from ice used for storing and keeping foods chilled. Ice that people plan to consume should not have had other people’s hands on it or contaminated with meat juice or other foods that have been stored in a cooler. Bacteria can thrive in a cooler full of ice.
If your summer celebration calls for homemade ice cream then the recipe should not include raw eggs. Eggs often contain a bacteria called salmonella and eggs that are used in ice cream are not cooked. Cooking kills this bacteria but freezing does not.
Pasteurized cheese should be the only kind of cheese eaten by an expectant mother. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) do not eat soft cheeses like feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, "MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK."
Garden vegetables used in salads or on veggie trays with dip should have all the vegetables scrubbed and rinsed first. Dip should be kept cold by tucking a bowl of vegetable dip inside a bowl of ice to keep it cool. Do not eat raw alfalfa or other sprouts garnished on the tray on hamburger or in salad because they can have E.coli and salmonella bacteria.
Ready-to-eat deli-style salads such as macaroni salad, potato salad, egg salad, and chicken salad need to be placed in an ice-filled container to keep these foods cool. Cold foods should be put away as soon as the guests have served themselves, if someone wants seconds announce that they can get it out of the cooler or refrigerator.
Refrigerated foods that are not prepared or handled correctly can have a bacterium called listeria. This happens in protein rich foods like meat and includes egg, chicken, seafood and ham. Refrigerated foods cannot stay out in the hot summer weather for more than an hour even on ice, if you choose to eat these prepared foods, discard any leftovers after four days
Lunch meats and hot dogs are high in nitrates, salt and fat. It is safe to have these once in awhile as long as they are fully steamed or cooked. Getting meat fully heated is the only way to kill harmful bacteria that can make an expectant mother ill. If meat isn’t kept on a hot plate then don’t eat it unless you know it’s been out less than two hours. These meats should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meat juices and contaminated packaging should be handled with care. Do not let these liquids come into contact with utensils or foods that are not cooked. In addition, wash your hands before after handling raw meat or any food that might have bacteria on it. Clean the utensils well and avoid cross contamination by never using a knife on raw meat that you use on raw vegetables. This most certainly can make you or anyone who eats your food terribly sick.
Gilled meats like hamburger, chicken, pork, fish or barbecued meat must be thoroughly cooked with no pink inside and remember the meat juices should run clear before eating. Bacteria such as E.coli, toxoplasma, listeria, and salmonella live in undercooked meats and must be heated to a high degree to kill it.
What degree should my food cook? All meats should be tested with a food thermometer for an accurate temperature. The color of the food itself is not a good sign of whether the meat is completely cooked or not.
• Ground beef, veal, lamb and pork should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Ground poultry at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
• Pork roasts and pork chops must reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Whole chicken 180 degrees Fahrenheit
• Chicken breasts 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Seafood 145 degrees F. Use a food thermometer to test the temperature, because the color of the food isn't always a good indicator of doneness.)
Clean & scrub fresh garden vegetables
National Institute of Health
Center for Disease Control
Food & Drug Administration