Eager to fire up the grill and break out the barbecue? Make sure your summer spread is as safe as it is succulent with a visit to the USDA Food Safety Mobile.

The 35-foot recreational vehicle will stop by the Monongalia County Courthouse in Morgantown from 10:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15. Food safety experts will be on hand to demonstrate safe food handling and food thermometer usage provide free food safety publications.

The USDA Food Safety Mobile is a backdrop for fun learning,said Betty Forbes, R.D., L.D., director of dietetic education programs in human nutrition and foods in West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

We’re going to be teaching people about how to grill hamburgers safelyand how to keep children safe,said Forbes, president of the West Virginia Dietetic Association.For instance, most parents don’t realize that young children are much more likely to get sick from dangerous bacteria that can be found in food. In fact, one-third of all food borne illness occurs in children under 10 years old.

Along with cooking and food thermometer demonstrations, the traveling food safety experts will be on hand to answer commonly asked food safety questions such as:

  • How long can you store opened packages of lunch meat in the refrigerator?
  • Is last year’s frozen turkey still good to eat this year?
  • Is it safe to eat raw cookie dough?
  • Is it safe to leave pizza out on the counter overnight?

(Answers listed below.)

If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers,said Forbes.Come on over and check us out.

The Food Safety Mobile is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It was launched in March 2003 by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

According to Susan Conley, director of food safety education for FSIS ,We’re aiming to take food safety messages to America’s front porches. We’re traveling the whole country to bring the message homeand help people keep themselves and their families safe from foodborne illnesses.

According to Conley, the USDA Food Safety Mobile features thenotorious BAC !representing the foodborne bacteria that can make people sick.As the graphics on the Mobile show, BAC ! can be beaten by the four rules of safe food handling: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

To learn more about safe food handling, check out:http://www.fsis.usda.gov. The WVU Extension Service also has extensive resources on the subject, which can be accessed by contacting Guendoline Brown, nutrition and health specialist, at 304-293-2694 ext. 3424, or Patti Kisner at the Monongalia County Extension Office, 304-291-7201. To see where the USDA Food Safety Mobile has been and where it’s heading, go to:http://www.fsis.usda.gov/foodsafetymobile.

Answers to the food safety questions listed above:

How long can you store opened packages of lunch meat in the refrigerator? Luncheon meat can be purchased sliced from the deli counter or in vacuum-sealed packages. Lunch meat sliced at the deli may be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. Unopened vacuum-sealed packages of luncheon meat may be kept two weeks and, once opened, should be used within three to five days. The refrigerator temperature should be 40F or below.

Is last year’s frozen turkey still good to eat this year? Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, turkey will be safe in the freezer one year later. Recommended freezer storage times are for quality only. A turkey will be of top quality for one year as long as the plastic packaging does not have any tears; however, quality may be diminished. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness. Also remember that the freezer temperature is important. A freezer temperature should be 0F or below to be safe.

Is it safe to eat raw cookie dough? As tempting as it is, do not eat raw cookie dough or lick the beaters after mixing cake batter. Remember that if the dough or batter contains raw eggs, it could also contain Salmonellaa leading cause of foodborne illness. Egg mixtures, such as cookies, Caesar salad and egg nog are safe if they are cooked to 160F. Heat gently and use a food thermometer to measure the temperature.

Is it safe to leave pizza out on the counter overnight? No, follow the two-hour rule when keeping perishable food at room temperature; one hour in temperatures above 90F. Keep hot foods hot to 140F or higher and cold foods cold to 40F or lower. Remember to refrigerate perishable food and leftovers as quickly as possible.