June 30, 2011
Food safety precautions urged for Independence Day celebrations

Food 20 Burgers Rick Bayles.jpgGrilling and barbecuing to celebrate Fourth of July is guaranteed fun, but nothing kills a party faster than food poisoning.

That's why three federal agencies and the Ad Council have teamed up to launch a new campaign, Food Safe Families, this week. The effort is the first joint national multimedia public service campaign and is aimed at helping families prevent food borne illnesses, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.

The USDA, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are behind the campaign, which includes a Facebook page, Twitter handle and online database with answers to hundreds of questions regarding foodborne illness prevention.

About one in six Americans, some 48,000 people, suffer from food poisoning each year, the CDC reports.

Families are encouraged to take measures to prevent foodborne illness, including:

• Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
• Using different cutting boards for raw meat and other foods.
• Using a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe temperature.
• Chilling raw and prepared foods immediately.

Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research at UC Davis, has offered sound advice over the years when it comes to food safety. Here are some of her tips:

• The big chill: Bacteria loves to grow between 40 and 140 degrees, Bruhn said. So slide that half-filled bowl of potato salad and any other leftovers into the fridge before serving up the pie.
• Plate policies: Don't use the same plate to carry raw and cooked food to and from the grill. And don't think a quick rinse will get rid of harmful bacteria. You need to thoroughly wash it with hot water and soap. Or just get a clean plate, Bruhn said.
• Dueling spatulas: Either have two spatulas on hand to flip burgers (one to load the raw burger, one to removed the cooked one) or thoroughly clean the spatula between flips.
• Brown doesn't mean done: Don't use color as a sign of doneness. One of out of four burgers turn brown before reaching 160 degrees, Bruhn said.

Speaking of safe temperatures, here are the USDA guidelines for safe minimum food temperatures. All temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

Whole poultry = 165 degrees
Poultry breasts = 165 degrees
Ground poultry = 165 degrees
Ground meats = 160 degrees
Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops) = 145 degrees + at least 3 minutes resting time.

*Photo Credit: Larry Crowe/AP

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