CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) – Many North Country residents will be celebrating the Fourth of July this year differently than they have in the past with celebrations at home.
No matter how people choose to celebrate the Fourth of July, St. Lawrence County Public Health Department and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service are encouraging all residents to make food safety and other public health recommendations a part of their celebrations.
“Foodborne illness can increase during summer because of the warmer temperatures and extended time spent outside,” said Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. “You may not be grilling at the park this year, but instead you may be grilling at home. As we celebrate this Fourth of July holiday, I encourage consumers to use food safety steps to reduce their risk of illness.”
St. Lawrence County Public Health and USDA recommend the following to ensure a food safe Fourth of July:
- WASH YOUR HANDS. Wash hands before, during, and after you prepare a meal, especially after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Hands can move germs that can cause illness found in raw meat and poultry, around the area you are preparing food, which can lead to foodborne illness. Washing hands often, with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, is one of the best ways to stop the spread of harmful germs.
- DON’T CROSS-CONTAMINATE. Always keep raw meat and their juices from touching other foods. While grilling, avoid using the same utensils that can come into contact with raw meat or poultry with ready-to-eat foods. Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they touch raw items. Bring enough tools to keep your raw meat and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods and have extra cleaning and sanitizing supplies ready for your surfaces, plates and utensils.
- USE A FOOD THERMOMETER. Some grill masters may say they know their food is done just by looking at its color when it comes off the grill. That’s not possible and shouldn’t be relied upon. Although grilled foods may look done, foodborne illness causing germs are not killed until the safe internal temperature has been reached. Use a food thermometer to know when your food is safe to eat:
- The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:
- Beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145°F with a three-minute rest time
- Fish: 145°F
- Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb and veal): 160°F
- Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F
- KEEP FOODS AT A SAFE TEMPERATURE. Perishable food items, leftovers from the grill, cold salads, and even cut fruits and vegetables should not be left outside for more than two hours, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90°F. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Keep your food at or below 40°F in coolers or containers with a cold source, such as ice or gel packs. This will prevent harmful bacteria from growing.
If you have questions about these tips, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or chat live online from 10am-6pm, Monday through Friday.
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