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Don't Underestimate the Importance of Food Safety to Prevent Illness

If there are Memorial Day celebrations in your weekend plans, there’s a good chance that food will be part of them. Barbecue chicken, apple pie, or potato salad may find its way onto your plate. But if you or your host are not careful about prep or storage of the foods, you could be in for some foodborne illness.

Commonly referred to as food poisoning, foodborne illness can happen to anyone. According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating improperly prepared or stored food. Luckily, food poisoning is preventable. Here are some helpful hints to be food safe this holiday weekend:

  • As you’re preparing food, wash your hands and food preparation surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water
  • Once you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, don’t make the mistake of cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated from your ready-to-eat foods 
  • Cook food to the right temperatures. Remember, one “doneness” does not fit all. For example, beef has a different safe internal cooking temperature (145º) than chicken (165º)
  • Keep your refrigerator or picnic cooler below 40º and always refrigerate foods promptly–within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90º 

Keep these guidelines in mind, so everyone can safely enjoy some good old fashioned picnic foods this weekend.

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