Health and Family Services Cabinet
Food Safety Tips for the Fourth of July
It’s summer - time for cookouts, picnics and eating outdoors. However, if food isn’t handled correctly, foodborne illness can ruin all of the fun.
The Department for Public Health’s (DPH) food safety branch wants to remind cooks of some general food safety tips, particularly during the Fourth of July holiday when family barbecues and picnics are part of the tradition.
“The key to food protection is simple: Keep hot food hot, and keep cold food cold,” said Christine Atkinson, manager of the food safety branch.
Here are some food safety guidelines to follow to help prevent illness from improperly prepared, cooked or stored foods.
· Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
· 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 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 hamburger patties.
· 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 the 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 degrees F for 15 seconds
Pork Products 150 degrees F for 15 seconds
Other Products 140 degrees F for 15 seconds
Reheating Leftovers 165 degrees 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.
· Within two hours, cool and maintain leftovers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or freeze at zero degrees or lower.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” said William Hacker, M.D., acting undersecretary for health and DPH commissioner. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”