Because many Fourth of July celebrations include grilling, picnics and other outdoor food events, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is promoting easy steps everyone should take to avoid foodborne illnesses associated with summer heat.
During the summer months, warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to thrive. Foodborne illness, often called food poisoning, is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages people to take the following steps to protect themselves, their families and their friends from foodborne illnesses when eating outdoors this Independence Day and throughout the summer:
- Even in outdoor settings, wash hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and water before and after preparing meals.
- Practice good food handling procedures and don’t use the same surface for raw meat and ready to eat foods like salad, fruits and vegetables.
- Use a food thermometer to verify that foods are cooked to their recommended/safe internal temperature.
- When grilling, throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
- When transporting and serving food, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
- Refrigerate leftover foods within one hour, otherwise they should be thrown away.
More tips and suggestions for grilling and preparing specific foods like fruit salad and deviled eggs are highlighted in the Food Safety Flyer provided by FoodSafety.gov. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/foodsafety.