Fourth of July brings warnings about food safety

The number of foodborne illnesses increases during the summer months.

Suzanne Monaghan
June 29, 2018 - 8:45 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Planning a cookout, party or heading on a road trip this Fourth of July holiday? There are some food safety guidelines to help prevent food poisoning.  

The number of foodborne illnesses increases during the summer months.

"Every year, it's estimated that there are roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States from foodborne illness," said Adam Ghering, a food safety expert with the USDA.  

"A lot of people will use the look of the hamburger or the smell or the feel to determine if their meat and poultry is done," Ghering said. "However, the only way that you can know for sure if you've destroyed any illness-causing bacteria that might be in those items is to use a food thermometer."

Put the thermometer in the side, not the top, of the meat and guide it to the center. And never reuse items that have touched raw meat, fish or poultry.

When serving food outdoors, if it's more than 90 degrees, the food can only stay out for an hour. 

"You want to get those leftovers in the refrigerator or cooler within one hour after cooking if the temperature 90 degrees or warmer outside," Gehring explained.

Packing a cooler? Use plenty of ice, keep food in one cooler, drinks in another.

"If you have some soda or something in one cooler, you might be opening that very often, so that temperature can fluctuate," Ghering said.

So keep the cooler out of direct sunlight, and if you're going to the beach, it's recommended that you partially bury it in the sand to help it stay cold.

More information is available on the FoodKeeper mobile app, online or through the USDA meat and poultry hotline: 1-888-674-6854.