The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers the following tips for safe food handling during the July Fourth holiday or anytime this summer:
- Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. You shouldn’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees), so if you’re away from home, make sure you bring a cooler to store those leftovers. For best results, bring plenty of ice or ice packs for coolers.
- Make sure you clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water. If not possible to wash at an outdoor site, bring a plastic bag for storing dirty or contaminants utensils and equipment. Bring antiseptic wipes for cleaning hands.
- When grilling, use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods (like raw vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination.
- Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer. That’s the only way to know it’s a safe temperature. To ensure that any harmful bacteria is killed, burgers should be cooked to 160 degrees.