May 26, 2016

Avoid Cooking Dangers on Memorial Day – Simple Guidelines to Keep You Safe

Shutterstock Memorial Day CookoutPicnic Prepping

  • Foodborne illnesses increase in the summertime because bacteria grow faster in higher temperatures (90-110 F).
  • Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness. Keeping your hands clean is easy with hand sanitizer.
  • Package foods separately in coolers. Keep raw meat away from other foods.
  • Plastic plates and cutlery are intended for one-time use – do not wash and reuse.
  • Since the beverage cooler is likely to be opened more frequently, pack perishable foods in another cooler.
  • Keep cold food cold. Refrigerated perishable foods should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice.
  • Keep coolers out of the sun and find a nice spot in the shade. Replenish ice as soon as it starts melting.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing, and slice them before getting outdoors.
  • Bring out fruit, vegetables and salads when you are ready to enjoy them. Keep them on ice as long as you can.
  • Keep marinated food in the refrigerator. Marinade is contaminated from the raw meat, so always discard after marinating. Don’t use the plate used for marinating to serve cooked meat.

Time and Temperature

  • Bring a thermometer to your picnic! While food may look crisp and golden on the outside, it may still be undercooked on the inside.
  • Foodborne illness is greatest in chicken, pork and hamburgers. Check the internal temperature before consuming.
  • Cook chicken to 165 F. Cook beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F.
  • Allow meat to cool for at least 3 minutes before carving and consuming.
  • Do not partially cook meat ahead of time, which allows bacteria to survive and multiply.


  • If in doubt, toss it out! Food left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours may spoil and not be safe to eat. In hot weather, that time reduces to 1 hour.
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