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MDARD Reminds Michiganders to Think Food Safety this Memorial Day

Lansing, MI Memorial Day is Michigan's traditional kick-off to the picnic and barbeque season. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reminds Michiganders to think food safety as they get outside to enjoy the holiday weekend. Following a few simple food safety tips when preparing, holding, and serving foods in warmer weather can help prevent foodborne illness.

"This Memorial Day take extra care when it comes to the food you re serving and play a major part in protecting your family and friends," said Tim Slawinski, director of MDARD's Bureau of Food Safety and Animal Health. "Ensuring food safety is crucial for everyone, as it prevents foodborne illnesses and ensures everyone can enjoy their holiday gathering."

Here are some food safety tips to help make outdoor eating fun and safe:

  1. Safe food begins with proper hand washing: Everyone involved in the cooking or eating should wash their hands with soap and water. If water is not available, use disposable handwipes or hand sanitizer.

  2. Keep food at the appropriate temperature: Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 F and 140 F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone." It's especially important to keep cold foods cold when it's hot outside. When transporting food to a picnic site, pack food on ice to keep it cold so bacteria can't grow and spoil it. Don t leave perishable foods out in the heat all day. Pack leftovers back in the cooler with plenty of ice to cool hot foods quickly and keep everything out of the danger zone.

  3. Pack beverages in a separate cooler from perishable foods: The beverage cooler will be opened more often, letting in the hot air, while the food cooler will keep contents cooler longer.

  4. Cook all meats at the proper temperature: Bring a meat thermometer and test your meats for doneness to assure they are properly cooked.

  5. Pack clean soapy towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands: Use a table cover for picnic tables whenever possible. Picnic tables are usually exposed to weather and wildlife and may not be clean even if they look clean. Wipe down the picnic site before you go home as common courtesy for the next picnickers.

If you suspect you have eaten something that has made you ill, please seek medical attention and report your illness to your local health department. Your doctor can assist with this process, or you can contact your local health department directly.

For more food safety tips, visit