Independence Day will be celebrated with fireworks, parades and picnics. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans to keep food safety in mind as they grill those hot dogs, brats, and burgers. "When large gatherings like holiday-related picnics and meals happen, we typically hear about people getting ill with diarrhea and vomiting from foodborne illnesses," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "Most of these illnesses are caused by improperly cooked or stored foods."
To make sure you, your family and friends have a healthy holiday, remember the following tips:
Cook all meats thoroughly, especially ground meats like hamburgers and sausages (like bratwursts). Use a meat thermometer to ensure the middle of the meat has reached a temperature that will kill the organisms that can make us sick. Cook chicken to 165 F, ground meats like hamburger to 160 F, and whole meats like steaks or pork chops to 145 F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, make sure meat is cooked until there is no pink visible in the center and the juices run clear.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator - not on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, set aside a portion before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don't reuse marinade, as this can re-contaminate the food.
Keep cold food cold and hot food hot by transporting them separately in insulated bags or coolers. Whether in your car or on the picnic table, illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours and during the summer heat, that time is cut down to within one hour.
Don't reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food's juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
Have a way to wash your hands prior to eating. For example, if picnicking, bring soap and water or hand wipes so that everyone can clean their hands before they eat.
For more information on preventing foodborne illness, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Foodborne.aspx.