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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Follow food safety guidelines for a healthy, tasty Fourth of July holiday

Press Release Date:  Friday, June 24, 2005  
Contact Information:  Pamela Hendren
Food Safety Branch
Department for Public Health
502) 564-7181, ext. 3715
 


FRANKFORT, KY (June 24, 2005) -- The Cabinet for Health and Family Services wants this Fourth of July weekend to be a safe and healthy one for everyone enjoying the wonderful tastes of summer at celebration meals, picnics, potluck dinners or just snacking.

In the summertime, and especially at July Fourth celebrations, many Kentuckians and visitors to the commonwealth will be cooking out and handling foods for meals. The Cabinet’s Food Safety Branch wants to remind Kentucky cooks of some general food safety tips to help make sure the holiday weekend isn’t ruined by a food-borne illness.

Pamela Hendren, Food Safety Branch retail food supervisor, said clean hands, food preparation surfaces and utensils are keys to preventing illness from unsafe food.

“Cross-contamination and food spoilage can happen easily and can lead to some unpleasant, even dangerous illnesses,” Hendren said.  “That’s why it’s so important for cooks to be aware of some simple but important food safety rules when preparing meals.”

Here are some food safety guidelines to follow to help prevent illness from improperly prepared, cooked or stored foods.

Keep hands clean
Be sure to keep wash before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items, after handling pets and anytime hands are dirty.  Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels (that kitchen dish towel can become a playground for germs and other microorganism that can cause illness).

Clean and sanitize surfaces often
To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water.  Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration.  Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.

Separate - don’t cross-contaminate
Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood.  Never use the same plate to transport the cooked hamburgers that was used for the raw patties.

Handle sliced melon carefully
Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon.  Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing and keep work surface and utensils used to prepare melon clean and sanitized. Refrigerate sliced melon promptly at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.  Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. 

Cook food to the proper internal temperature

Ground Beef 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
Poultry and Stuffed Meats 165 F for 15 seconds
Pork Products 150 F for 15 seconds
Other Foods 140 F for 15 seconds
Reheating Leftovers 165 F for 15 seconds

Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

Chill, refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly
Within two hours cool and maintain leftovers at 41 F or lower or freeze at zero degrees or lower.

“Bacteria can be present in and on most any food as well as on hands and surfaces,” said Clyde Bolton, director of the Cabinet’s Division of Public Health Protection and Safety.  “Practicing basic food safety is essential for any healthy, enjoyable celebration that includes food.”

For more information about food safety, contact your local county health department or the state Food Safety Branch at (502) 564-7181.

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Last Updated 6/24/2005