How to keep food-borne illness off home barbecue menus

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Many people have barbecue and picnicing plans over the holiday weekend in celebration of the 4th of July. Public health experts warn that if you don’t handle it property– the food can put you at risk of a food-borne illness. A public health leader is offering some advice for your food safety. Dr. Lawton Davic, Health Diorector with the Coastal Health District says the risk of food-borne illness increases when food sits out after it’s been cooked. While it cools down on the kitchen counter, or even on a picnic table, bacteria can grow inside and re-heating does not burn offthe risk, even though proper temperatures kills the bacteria itself, “It makes a toxin and you can reheat the meat and kill the bacteria but you don’t de-nature the toxin that the bacteria made so if you eat that meat you still develop incredibly severe nausea, vomiting, and diahrrea very quickly,” Davis says, adding that re-heating can make people believe it’s safe when it’s not, Yyou know the food would be warm, it would taste good, but it’s still got that toxin on it and it’ll make you sick,” said Davis

Improper marinading and basting can contaminate meats too, “Don’t use the raw juices for basting your meat while you’re cooking it. you know if you’re going to put barbecue sauce on it or you’re gonna do some kind of marinade and you had your raw meat in the marinade, make another batch of the marinade to baste it with, not the stuff that you soaked the meat in before you cooked,” said Davis.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers the following food safety recommendations:

Cooking outdoors was once a summer-only activity shared with family and friends. Now more than half of Americans say they are cooking outdoors year round. So whether the snow is blowing or the sun is shining, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from causing foodborne illness. Use these simple guidelines for grilling food safely.

Keep Everything Clean
Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. If you are grilling and eating away from home, find out if there is a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning or pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

Separate Raw and Cooked Foods
To prevent foodborne illness, do not use the same platter, cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate cooked food.

Cook Thoroughly
Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill tends to brown quickly on the outside, so use a food thermometer to ensure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.

MEATS
Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) as measured with a food thermometer. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least 3 minutes before carving or consuming. Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures:
Poultry
(whole, pieces & ground)
Ground meats
Beef, pork, lamb and veal
(steaks, roasts & chops)
165°F (74°C)
160°F (71°C)
145°F (63°C)

GROUND MEATS
All raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be
cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C)
as measured with a food thermometer.

POULTRY
Poultry should be cooked to a minimum internal
temperature of 165°F (74°C) as measured with a
food thermometer.

Keep Cold Food Cold
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out what will immediately be placed on the grill. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sunlight by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air
in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.

Keep Hot Food Hot
After cooking meat and poultry, keep it hot until served — at 140°F (60°C) or warmer. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200°F (93°C), in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or on a warming tray.

Leftovers and Reheating
Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F/ 32°C). When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs or hamburgers, grill to 165°F (74°C) or until steaming hot.

Food Safety Questions?
Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline toll-free at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

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