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IDPH reminds the public about food safety for the holiday weekend

SPRINGFIELD – Ahead of the Fourth of July Holiday weekend, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding those who are grilling out or packing a picnic to protect their family and friends by following proven safety tips to reduce the chance of spoiling the holiday by contracting a foodborne illness. When it comes to cookouts and picnics, the most important safety rule is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods should be cooked to the proper temperature to avoid foodborne illnesses. In addition, with elevated COVID-19 community levels in more than half the counties in Illinois, holiday hosts should take additional precautions to protect vulnerable guests. Hosts should hold as many activities outside as weather permits.
They say it can be difficult to keep food cold during warm weather, especially while picnicking or traveling. Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep foods 40°F or below in an insulated cooler. One tip to help keep your cooler below 40ºF is to pack beverages in one cooler and food in another. The cooler with the beverages will likely be opened more frequently, causing the temperature inside the cooler to fluctuate. You can also keep coolers in the shade and out of the direct sun.
To guard against cross-contamination, food should be kept separate. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be stored and prepared separately from fruits, vegetables, cheeses, salads, and even cooked foods.
Before grilling, thaw food safely in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Always marinate food in the refrigerator, no matter what kind of marinade you’re using. Never thaw or marinate meat, poultry, or seafood on the counter. Harmful germs can multiple quickly at room temperature.
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and grills before and after cooking.
Before grilling, use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface. If you use a wire bristle brush, inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from the grill cleaning brush may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
When grilling, make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature by using a food thermometer. Follow these temperature guidelines to ensure grilled food is safe for consumption:
145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (then allow meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
145°F – fish
160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
After grilling, keep food at 140°F or warmer until served.
Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate when taking cooked food off the grill.
After the meal, divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Make sure all leftovers are kept in the freezer,fridge, or on ice within two hours after cooking, or one hour if it is above 90°F outside.
Know the symptoms of most types of food poisoning, which include severe cramps, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms can begin from 30 minutes to three or more days after eating contaminated food. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a doctor or health care provider.
More food safety tips and information about foodborne illnesses and symptoms can be found on the CDC Food Safety website.

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