What To Know About Food Safety For Your 4th Of July Cookout

Photographed by Maia Harms.
Chances are, you're planning to celebrate this Fourth of July with a picnic, barbecue, or family cookout. And if that's the case, there are few things you should know about food safety before you light up that grill.

We've rounded up a few quick tips for anyone looking forward to a summer barbeque to keep you safe, healthy, and happy.

Keep cold foods cold.

"Cold foods should be ideally put in shallow containers and then kept on ice to keep them below 40 degrees Fahrenheit," Liz Weinandy, a dietitian at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, told MedicalXpress.
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Keep hot foods hot.

While keeping cold foods cold seems like a no-brainer, for some reason, people forget that hot food also requires close watch. According to Weinandy, hot foods should be kept above 160 degrees. Otherwise, you may end up with bacteria growing on your food.

Use a thermometer when cooking.

According to experts, ground meats, like hamburgers, should be cooked through with an internal temperature of at least 160ºF. As for chicken, it should be cooked through to a temperature of 165ºF. Keeping track of cooking temperatures is easy with a thermometer on hand.

Be careful with utensils and cutting boards.

It's not all about temperature. Make sure you're using different cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked meat. "Anything that touches raw meat should be completely sanitized before being used again or use clean ones to avoid cross contamination," says Weinandy.

Always refrigerate leftovers.

The important thing to remember about leftovers is that they need to be refrigerated within two hours — if it's more than 90 degrees outside, that window is shortened to just one hour.

"If food is left out longer than this, it can grow some serious bacteria," Weinandy said. Any food sitting out longer should be thrown away.
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