(WAND) – The Iroquios County Public Health Department has released a list of food safety tips for the summer.
As an important part of many summer backyard activities, grilling and cooking can lead to many foodborne illnesses if you’re not careful.
The ICPHD suggests the following tips to try to prevent and minimize the risk of spreading diet-related illnesses.
Food safety boils down to five basic rules:
1. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
2. Keep everything in the cooking area clean.
3. Wash your hands frequently.
4. Keep grates and utensils clean.
5. Handle leftovers properly.
Refrigerate cooked foods that are not served immediately. If food is not refrigerated for more than two hours, the risk of bacterial growth increases. Check your fridge to make sure it’s 41°F or lower.
PREVENT BACTERIA FROM ENTERING FOOD:
Hands should always be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling food and after touching raw food. Towels and washcloths should be kept clean. Grill prep areas and utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water between each step of food preparation.
Avoid cross-contamination by washing or using separate plates when transferring uncooked food to the grill and from the grill to serve.
PROPER DEFROSTING AND COOKING:
Many warm-blooded animals, turkeys and other poultry, often harbor Salmonella and other organisms that can cause foodborne illness. Purchased and packaged meats may also be contaminated with these organisms.
Proper thawing and cooking are important to avoid these diseases.
To avoid contamination, store all raw meat products on the bottom shelf or separate from other food items in your refrigerator, especially during the defrosting process. This will help prevent raw meat juices from contaminating other foods.
Thaw foods in a refrigerator where the temperature does not exceed 41° F. Cook fish, meat and poultry completely without interrupting the cooking process; interruption could allow bacteria to grow. Make sure fish, hot dogs, and steaks are cooked to 145°F, pork, brats, and hamburgers reach a temperature of at least 155°F, and poultry reach a temperature of 165° F or more.
To check the temperature, use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding fat and bone. For poultry, insert it into the thick part of the thigh next to the body. Wash and rinse the thermometer between uses to avoid possible contamination.
Safe storage of leftovers is just as important as proper cooking. After eating, refrigerate leftovers immediately in small, shallow containers. Do not allow food to sit for several hours, as this will allow time for the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
Do not cool leftovers on the kitchen counter. Divide them into smaller portions so they cool faster, putting them in the fridge as soon as possible. Serve leftovers very cold (straight from the refrigerator) or very hot (heated to 165°F or more).
Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems should not eat raw or undercooked animal products unless they have checked with their doctor.
For more food safety information, contact the Iroquois County Public Health Department at 815.432.2483 or visit the ICPHD website.