Are you ready to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends?
As families across the county get together to celebrate the Fourth of July this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is urging everyone to be food safe.
“FSIS has a number of resources to help consumers prevent food-borne illnesses at home,” said USDA food safety expert Mindy Brashears.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of Americans suffer from food-borne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
“When gathering to celebrate our Independence Day, we urge Americans to follow our key food safety recommendations to keep their family and friends safe,” Brashears said.
According to María Machuca, with the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education Food Safety and Inspection Service, if people integrate into their cookout plans key food safety steps, hosts can easily provide everyone with a great time this Fourth of July.
For people who are cooking out this Fourth of July, the USDA provides a few recommendations to keep the celebration free from illness-causing bacteria.
▪ The easiest way to stop the spread of bacteria around the kitchen is by washing your hands. Before starting, make sure you wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Dry them with a clean towel or disposable paper towel.
▪ Wash your hands immediately after handling meats and poultry. This is the best way to avoid cross-contamination of other foods, spice containers, or preparation surfaces.
▪ Set your food station table with items that can help you keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. This will help to keep perishable items out of the danger zone (40-140⁰F).
Cooking to the Safe Temperature
▪ Regardless of everyone’s tastes, it is important to ensure that all meat and poultry is cooked to the safe minimum internal temperatures as measured by a food thermometer: Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F with a three-minute rest time; fish: 145°F; ground meats (beef, lamb, veal, pork): 160°F and whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F
Keeping Food Safe
▪ If you plan to have a burger or hot dog toppings bar with items like mayo, sliced tomatoes or avocado, be sure to keep them cold by placing them on a tray of ice. Be sure to replenish the ice as needed!
▪ Perishable food items should not be left outside for more than two hours if the temperature is at or below 90°F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90⁰F.
▪ Any leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are at or above 90⁰F) of being placed outside. If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
Need more food safety information? You can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (888) 674-6854 Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, or email or chat at AskKaren.gov.