Cooking outdoors is an activity long shared by family and friends. In America, Independence Day, July 4, is one of the most celebrated of days with this tradition. Maury Regional Medical Center wishes you a safe and wonderful Independence Day and wants to share some tips from the United States Department of Agriculture on how to keep those delicious meals from leaving you with a bad taste. Follow these food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from causing foodborne illness.
- When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last — right before checking out and separate it from the other food in your shopping cart to prevent cross-contamination if juices drip on other foods. Put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.
- Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store and place meat and poultry in refrigerator immediately on getting home. Freeze ground meat and poultry that won’t be used in one or two days; freeze other meat within four days. Refrigerate perishable food within two hours (one hour if temperature is above 90 degrees. When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep it at 40 degrees or below. Freeze ground meat and poultry that won’t be used in one or two days; freeze other meat within four days.
- 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 microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
- Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry and be sure to keep them all clean. If camping out away from home, find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for cleaning and preparation and pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
- Follow guidelines to be sure that all food is properly cooked before being consumed. Precooking food partially in the microwave, stove or oven is a good way of reducing grilling time.
For more tips, visit USDA.gov.
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