Celebrate the Fourth of July with Food Safety

July 3, 2001

Michigan Department of Community Health Director, James K. Haveman, Jr., today urged safe and proper handling of picnic foods during this Fourth of July Holiday. Reports of food-borne illness tend to rise between May and September in Michigan, likely in part because of increased barbecuing and more meals outside where washing facilities and refrigeration can be overlooked. Warm weather also makes it easier for harmful bacteria to multiply.

"Food safety must come first when having cookouts," said Haveman. "Food can look done before it really is, so don't take chances. Hamburgers often brown quickly on the outside but may be undercooked inside, which is why meat needs to reach a safe internal temperature that can be checked with a meat thermometer. Undercooked meats can pose a risk for E. coli 0157 infection, which can be extremely serious and result in kidney failure and death. Always wash hands and utensils with warm soapy water after contact with raw meat to prevent cross-contamination."

To minimize the risk of food-borne illness:
-- Frozen meat should be defrosted in the microwave or in the refrigerator, not at room temperature on the kitchen counter or outside near the barbeque.

-- The refrigerator is the place to marinate meat. Once you grill meat, place it on a clean plate-not the same one that held the raw meat.

-- Don't cross contaminate food. Be sure that raw meat and its juices don't come in contact with ready to eat foods, fruits or vegetables.

-- Keep cold dishes cold and hot dishes hot. Don't leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. If the temperature outside is 80°F, don't leave perishable foods out for more than one hour.

-- Wash hands in hot soapy water before preparing food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.

-- Thoroughly cook hamburgers, veal, lamb, and pork to an internal temperature of 160°F; ground poultry to 165°F. Beefsteaks may be cooked to 145°F for medium rare. Whole poultry should reach 180°F as measured in the thigh; breast meat to 170°F.

-- Wash all plates, utensils and surfaces that come into contact with raw meats in warm soapy water before using them again for ready-to-eat food.

-- Wash hands immediately after handling raw meats.