As July 4th rolls around, American families will be gathering for backyard cookouts across the country to celebrate the holiday. This is a summer ritual that captivates the nation, but it’s not all parades and fireworks for everyone this time of year.
The USDA is working to raise awareness about an important public health issue. Food poisoning is expected to affect 1 in 6 Americans this year, or about 48 million people. This will result in approximately 3,000 deaths that could have been avoided with proper food preparation and storage.
Undercooked meat can cause food poisoning, and looking at the color and texture of the meat on the grill isn’t enough to ensure that it’s safe to eat. Meat should always be cooked to a safe temperature, and a meat thermometer is an essential tool to determine doneness.
When a hamburger is cooked to 160 degrees F, it’s safe to eat. Harmful bacteria are destroyed when ground beef reaches this temperature. Visit this chart to see what temperature other types of meat should reach before they’re done cooking. The chart also outlines minimum temperatures for egg dishes and general leftovers. This is a great resource to keep on hand.
Summer Food Safety Tips
Here’s a little Q&A that covers some important questions you should be able to answer before hosting your next cookout:
- How long you can leave perishables at room temperature before they become unsafe to eat?
- How many seconds should you wash your hands before preparing food with them?
- How can you tell if your grill is hot enough to cook meat to a safe temperature?
Here are the answers:
- Prepared food shouldn’t sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature, or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before and after handling food.
- The grill is hot enough when you can’t keep your hands over it for 2 seconds.
FoodSafety.gov has lots of great resources about food safety practices. Use their “Ask Karen” database to find answers to nearly 1,500 specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses.
Is it Done Yet? Brochure
Twitter Party: If you’re on Twitter, join the #FoodSafe4th Twitter Party on June 30th at 1 PM Eastern time to learn more tips about food safety this fourth of July.
This post was made possible through the support of Element Associates and the USDA. All opinions are my own.