October 13, 2020

USDA Offers Food Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

The USDA is offering food safety tips for summer and the Fourth of July. Food poisoning increases in the summer months for several reasons. About 48,000,000 people contract some type of food poisoning every year in the United States.

Fourth of July Food Safety

Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said, “Because foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in warmer temperatures, foodborne illness can spike during the summer. This is likely because pope are spending more time outside – away from the sink and equipment in the kitchen that help consumers keep food safe.”

To avoid food poisoning, you should follow several steps. Without refrigeration, no perishable item should be left out of the fridge for more than two hours if the air temperature is less than 90°F, and for just one hour if it’s 90°F or warmer. If you aren’t sure how long the food has been sitting out, throw it away.

And remember that coolers, even packed full of ice, can’t cool food down to a safe temperature. In addition, bacteria can produce toxins that can make you sick that aren’t destroyed by heat. So cooking food that has been sitting out too long won’t protect you.

Always keep cold food cold. The temperature of a perishable item such as raw beef or uncooked chicken should never go above 40°F.  It’s a good idea to pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to make sure that the temp inside doesn’t get above 40°F.

Hot food should be kept hot, at 140°F or above. If you need to reheat food, make sure it reaches 165°F and test that temperature with a reliable food thermometer.

Always use a food thermometer to make sure that the beef, chicken, seafood, pork, and egg dishes are cooked to a safe final internal temperature. Use the USDA’s “Is it Done Yet?” guide. You can’t tell if meat is safely cooked by its appearance.

If you are going to marinate meat before grilling it, keep it in the fridge. Don’t marinate on the kitchen counter. And if you want to use the marinade as a sauce, boil it first to kill pathogens.

Be wary of cross-contamination. Cooked food should never be placed on a platter that held the uncooked product. Prepare fruits and veggies on different cutting boards than the ones you use for meats and poultry. And always wash your hands well with soap and water before you start cooking.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!


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