Food Safety for the Fourth of July

Posted at 10 a.m.
Food Safety for the Fourth of July

Fourth of July is a great time to fire up the grill, but did you know the summer months typically see a spike in foodborne illness? Make sure the fun in the sun doesn’t get spoiled by food poisoning.

Here are some simple steps to grilling food safely from the county’s Health Department.

  • Keep cold food cold. Meat and poultry should be refrigerated until ready to use. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter and avoid opening the lid too often.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature. Cook chicken to 165F and ground beef to 160F. You cannot judge “done” by how the food looks.
  • Keep hot food hot. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served (at 140°F or warmer.) Use a meat thermometer to check temperatures.
  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. For quicker thawing, you can defrost in the microwave if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Do not use the marinade for the raw food as the sauce for the cooked food. Keep a fresh portion aside for the sauce.
  • Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).

For more information on summer food safety visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/food or www.foodsafety.gov.


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