Thursday, July 03, 2014
As holiday grillers prepare to celebrate our nation's independence on Friday, Illinois Farm Bureau reminds you that proper food handling practices can prevent their "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" from being threatened by foodborne illness. The warm temperatures that draw crowds of people to outdoor celebrations also encourage the growth of bacteria, and incidents of food-related illnesses rise in summer months. But four simple steps from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety - Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill - can help families declare freedom from foodborne illness at Independence Day celebrations.
Freedom from foodborne illnesses starts with clean surfaces and clean hands. Be sure that you and your guests wash your hands before preparing or handling food. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Equally important is making sure that the surfaces that come in contact with raw and cooked foods are clean before you start and are washed frequently.
Raw meats and poultry should be prepared separately from vegetables and cooked foods. As you chop meats and veggies, be sure to use separate cutting boards. Juices from raw meats can contain harmful bacteria that could spread to raw veggies and already cooked foods.
As you take the cooked meats off the grill, be sure to place them on a clean platter, not on the dish that held them when they were raw. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.
CookNever begin cooking without your most important tool-a food thermometer. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria.
Keeping food at a safe temperature can be a concern at outdoor picnics and cookouts. Too often, food is prepared and left to sit out while guests munch over the course of several hours. Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40°F and 140°F, so perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature is higher than 90°F, which is common in the summer, food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been sitting out too long.
It is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept hot on the grill and cold foods can be kept chilled with ice packs or ice sources in a cooler.
Don't forget to check out our Grilling Pinterest page for yummy recipes and more tips!
Illinois Farm Bureau wishes you a safe and tasty 4th of July!
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