Have a safe 4th of July

Fireworks accidents aren't the only way to ruin holiday celebrations.

Summer holidays are the best! Sunshine, friends and family, picnics, pot lucks, beverages and activities all help to make great memories. It takes one accident to bring about not-so-good memories of these holidays, however. Fireworks come with warnings, and there are also some things we can practice to keep everybody safe from food poisoning.

The high temperatures of summer can be beneficial for bacterial growth on our food, so it’s especially important to keep our hot foods hot and our cold foods cold. MSU Extension advises you use these tips to keep you safe this holiday:

  • Keep your cold foods cold. When transporting salads, desserts or other cold foods, place them in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. If possible, have two coolers – one for cold beverages and the other for your perishable foods. Never use the ice that has kept foods cold for an addition to drinks as they can contaminate your beverage. Keep your cooler closed until ready to use the food or beverage. Keep cold foods on ice when serving, and put them back into a cooler within two hours – one hour if the outdoor temperatures are above 90ºF.
  • Clean any produce. Rinse your vegetables and fruits in clean running water. Don’t let them soak in a sink of water, as any contaminate can spread to the rest. After cutting any produce, keep it under refrigeration or in your cooler.
  • Watch for cross-contamination.  Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods. If the juices of raw meat touch vegetables and fruits, bacteria will spread to them and food borne illness can result. Keep cleaning cloths at the ready to take care of accidents, and have a food-grade sanitizer available.
  • Cook foods to their required minimum temperatures. Be aware that the plate you use to bring your raw meats to the grill is contaminated and should not be used again for the cooked meat unless it has been cleaned and sanitized. It is easier to use a different plate. Also, do not use any marinade you used for the meat as a dipping sauce unless it has been cooked – it too may contaminate the cooked meat.
  • Practice good personal hygiene. Remember to wash your hands often and make sure others do as well. Hands are an easy way to transmit pathogens.
  • Keep your hot foods hot. After grilling, put away any hot foods not eaten as soon as possible. They should be cooled and not left to sit at outdoor temperatures.

Keeping your family and friends safe from food borne illness can be quite easy if you follow these steps. As far as keeping them safe from fireworks? Leave those to the professionals.

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