The smell of barbecue on the grill, happy picnics with family and friends, pool parties with hamburgers, fresh veggies and delicious fruit and colorful fireworks all evoke the essence of summer and true Americana. We dream about it all year long and rejoice when the season of sunshine and outdoors has finally arrived…summer!
Before you gear up for your plethora of summer festivities, let’s talk about food safety during the summer. Not to be a buzzkill, but no one wants foodborne illness to ruin their parties and summer fun. Did you know that the summer months tend to see a larger increase of food poisoning because the warm temperatures cause bacteria to multiply faster?
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!
Burgers- they’re a given on any 4th of July menu. 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 new research just released by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), nearly two-thirds of Americans are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry.
According to USDA research, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. Meat and poultry need to be cooked to a safe temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present and color is not a good indicator of safety. Using a food thermometer is the safest way to ensure meats have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. When a hamburger is cooked to 160 F, it is both safe and delicious!
To all of the 4th of July chefs out there, use the Safe Cooking Temperature Chart here: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html from the Ad Council and the USDA.
If you have questions about preventing food poisoning and how to keep your family safe this 4th of July and all summer, check out the free resources on FoodSafety.gov. The online database, Ask Karen, has answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to foodborne illness. You can also call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Both are available in English and Spanish.
Check out the USDA’s tips for Safe Grilling
Recipes for Disaster: BBQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuBN6pE03ro
Summer Food Safety Tips from Martie Duncan of Food Network Star: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90Vb9aO3kwQ
Have a Happy 4th of July and a great holiday weekend everyone!