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Prevent Foodborne Illness at Your Summer Barbecue

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With summer grilling season is upon us, County officials are reminding residents that safe food handling skills are the key to making a cookout a big hit with guests.

Whether you’re hosting a neighborhood barbecue or cooking for a few friends and family members, you want to minimize your chances of contracting foodborne illnesses by cooking ground beef to 157°F and chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F.

“It is important for everyone who is going to be cooking outdoors to think about food safety. You don’t want to end your party with a foodborne illness,” said Gary Erbeck, Director of the Department of Environmental Health.

“Many people know that poultry should be thoroughly cooked to reduce the potential for salmonella. Cooking to 165oF also reduces the probability of campylobacter, another serious foodborne illness pathogen.”

There are five steps to food safety:

• SAFE FOOD SOURCE: Always purchase food from permitted vendors. Car trunks are not an approved and permitted source. Ensure the products are properly labeled.

• SEPARATE: Store raw meat, poultry and seafood separately so juices don’t drip onto other foods. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat or poultry.

• CLEAN: Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Wash the exterior of melons or other fruits before slicing.

• COOK: Check that your thermometer works or buy a new one. Cook meat products thoroughly and check the thermometer. Don’t guess on food safety temperatures.

• CHILL: Don’t overpack the refrigerator or cooler. Ensure temperatures are at 41°F or lower. Refrigerate perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours.

For additional information, visit www.fightbac.org or www.foodsafety.gov.