Grande View: Keeping summer food safe

BY BARBARA STORZ

Local chef, Marcel Fortuin, owner of the McAllen Culinary Academy, will provide a class at 10 a.m. today at the Growing Growers Farmers Market entitled “Creative Side Dishes for Safe Outdoor Events.”

“All too often we think of preparing dishes like potato salad with mayonnaise when we are feeding a lot of people, and this is not the safest option,” Fortuin said. “We have many other choices with our summer vegetables to please a crowd and keep everyone safe.”

Picnics, family reunions and potluck events are all part of summer fun, yet 1 in 6 Americans will get sick with food poisoning this year and over half of these cases will involve young children. By keeping food safety in mind from the very beginning, these events can be safe for everyone.

A discussion of utensils and best handling practices for food preparation, as well as storage of foods and transporting prepared dishes will begin the class.

“Temperature is most important when considering food for outdoor events,” Fortuin said. “Keeping cold dishes at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot dishes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above is an important part of planning for food safety.

Fortuin will prepare several side dishes, suitable for a large group, using fresh vegetables and herbs from the Growing Growers Farmers Market. This program is free and open to the public. Information will include a food safety handout, as well as, copies of recipes.

The Growing Growers Farmers Market is in Firemen’s Park at 201 1st Street in McAllen, just north of Business 83. The market hours are from 9 a.m. to noon. Fortuin’s class begins at 10 a.m.

For information on food safety, visit www.dinnertonight.tamu.edu. Be sure to type in “Food Safety” on this sight for access to several publications, including “Food Safety at Potlucks.”

An excellent guide on cooking for large groups may be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Cooking_for_Groups.pdf.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her gardening program on 710 KURV Radio or contact her via e-mail at bstorz@rcommunications.com.