Food poisoning is not simply an upset stomach; it is a serious public health threat in America. In fact, the CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans (about 48 million people) could suffer from foodborne illness this year. The result is approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and sadly, an estimated 3,000 deaths!
Because warm weather events often present an opportunity for bacteria to thrive and high temperatures cause bacteria to multiply more rapidly, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of foodborne illness and outbreaks.
And friends? Seeing ISN'T believing. Did you know: Many people assume that if a hamburger is brown in the middle, it is done. However, looking at the color and texture of food is not enough— you have to use a food thermometer to be sure! According to USDA research, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature.
We need to grill safe this summer. The USDA has shared some great food safety tips just in time for the 4th of July holiday:
- Carry cold perishable food like raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
- Be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. If possible, store these foods near the bottom of the cooler, so that juices don't contaminate other foods in the cooler.
- If you can't keep hot food hot during the drive to your location, plan and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
- A general rule of thumb for entertaining: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
- The two-hour rule is also in effect: food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If bringing hot take-out food (like chicken fingers, wings etc.), eat it within 2 hours of purchase (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).
- Instead of using large serving bowls, serve dips and items with dairy in smaller containers. Make several in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or coolers until you need them.
- Offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce opportunity for guests to eat items like dip and guacamole directly from the serving container (double-dipping is a no-no and can increase the chances for food contamination).
Join the conversation! The #FoodSafe4th Twitter Chat is TODAY at 1pm EST.
Follow hosts @martieparty @buzzmommy and @usdafoodsafety to learn more and get some great recipes.
For more great resources, check out the "Is It Done Yet?" brochure from USDA.