The Fourth of July is time for fun, family, sunshine, bug spray, parades, fireworks and foodborne illnesses. The warm weather, in combination with picnics and barbeques, offers bacteria the perfect environment to do its thing and multiply. There is no need for despair, or a hospital trip due to foodborne illnesses, if you follow these four simple food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook and chill.
Rinse fresh fruit and veggies at home before packing them in the cooler. Wash all surfaces, platters, utensils and your hands with hot soapy water before and after food preparation. If you don’t have access to running water, consider using disposable towelettes. Don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer for a quick clean up before eating all those picnic and barbeque goodies!
You Gotta Keep ‘em Separated! To avoid cross contamination be sure to keep raw meat and its juices securely wrapped and away from ready to eat and cooked foods. Keep separate utensils and platters for raw meat so the bacteria in raw juices do not carry over to the cooked foods. Never place cooked/ready to eat food on a dirty platter that was previously used for raw meat.
Don’t forget your food thermometer! Judging the internal temperature of the meat on the grill by the color is not foolproof. Burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F and chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill common food pathogens.
Ice, Ice Baby! Put your perishable food on ice in the cooler promptly after you are done eating. As a general rule, don’t leave perishable food at room temperature for longer than two hours. If the temperature is 90°F or higher, don’t leave perishable food at room temperature for longer than an hour. When in doubt, throw it out!
Thanks for reading, and enjoy a happy and safe Fourth of July!