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Summer safety tips: Keep your food safe

To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical.

These warm-weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. Whether you’re planning a barbeque for a small or large group, please utilize the following summer safety tips.

Minimize Bacteria Contamination

Prior to preparing your food for the festivities, always remember to wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds. This will reduce the spread of germs and possible illnesses. You can prevent bacteria from spreading by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing kitchen countertops, sponges, cutting boards, and utensils.

Below are a few methods to properly handle meat:
  • Be sure to defrost meat in the refrigerator. Never defrost meat at room temperature.
  • Cook meat at least 165 degrees.
  • Never reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked food.
  • Never use marinade that contained raw meat. If you want to use a marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a separate portion.
  • Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables to minimize the potential bacterial contamination.
Proper Cleaning Methods

Be sure to clean the inside of the grill regularly to avoid a buildup of grease. If you clean your grill using a bristle brush, check to make sure that bristles have not detached. Make sure there are clean platters and utensils. Last but not least, never leave a grill unattended.

Proper Temperatures

Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat and poultry reach a safe internal temperature. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven, or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill. Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. Food should not be left out of the cooler or off of the grill for more than two hours. If the outside temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the limit is one hour. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers. Never leave leftovers on the stove.

Enjoy the summer!

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