Beware bacteria during 4th barbecue

Published On: Jul 03 2014 04:11:24 PM EDT
Meat on grill

CNN

One estimate says 81 million Americans will attend some kind of July 4th barbecue this year. Federal experts say it’s critical to remember food safety, when preparing for your holiday fun. They say incidents of food poisoning surge during the summer because bacteria multiply faster when foods heat up in warm temperatures.

Just before Memorial Day, a Detroit meat company launched a recall of ground beef because of E.coli contamination. it was a timely reminder to be safe before that big holiday weekend. Luckily, there's been no recent scare, but don't be lulled into a sense of false security.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in six Americans or 48 million people suffer food borne illness every year. There are 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

"Our research shows that one in four burgers does turn brown before it's safely cooked so you really need to use a food thermometer to be sure that you're cooking all meat and poultry items to safe temperatures," said Cathy Cochran, public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food Safety Reminders

Whenever you cook meat, health experts urge you to follow common food safety practices. Proper cooking temperatures will kill any bacteria that might be present on any meat your bring into your home. At restaurants, ask for meat to be cooked well done to make sure it's as safe as possible.

The cooking temperatures suggested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are...

*Fish 145 degrees Fahrenheit
*Beef, pork, lamb, chops/steaks roasts-- 145 degrees Fahrenheit
*Ground meat- 160 degrees Fahrenheit
*Poultry 165 degrees Fahrenheit
*Hot dogs 160 degrees Fahrenheit

Again, color is NOT reliable indicator that meat have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill bacteria.

Other safety steps:

*Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 second before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards or any other dishes that come in contact with meat immediately.
*Keep raw meats away from other foods that will not be cooked.
*Refrigerate raw meat within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit
*Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

For more detailed information, here's a link to the government website on food safety: http://www.foodsafety.gov/

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