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Health Department issues safety reminder ahead of July 4 cookouts

Posted 7/1/22

For many, June typically means the end of the school year, graduations, the beginning of summer and a long Fourth of July weekend — often celebrated with a cookout or picnic.

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Health Department issues safety reminder ahead of July 4 cookouts

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UTICA — For many, June typically means the end of the school year, graduations, the beginning of summer and a long Fourth of July weekend — often celebrated with a cookout or picnic.

While the beautiful, sunny, summer days are welcome — there can be several challenges when cooking/storing food outdoors, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Oneida County Health Department.

Bacteria can multiply faster at higher temperatures which can result in unpleasant and sometimes dangerous illnesses, the department warns. Food-borne illness can be serious and sometimes life-threatening. Symptoms sometimes include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. There are, however, measures people can take to help prevent foodborne illnesses.

Citing both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the announcement recommends four steps to safe food: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean

Wash your hands if you are preparing/cooking food and also before you eat. “It’s a simple task, but one that is so extremely important in helping keep us all healthy,” the announcement said. “Make sure the utensils, dishes and cooking surfaces are also kept clean.”

Separate

“Raw meat should always be kept separate from other foods, both when storing and preparing,” the department adds. “Improper handling of raw meat, seafood and eggs could cause contamination of utensils and preparation surfaces as well as other food.”

Cook

Make sure to cook all meats to their recommended temperatures, the county health department announcement added. Poultry needs to be cooked to 165 degrees, whereas fish and whole cuts of beef need to be 145 degrees.

For more specific information, go online to https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures. Using a food thermometer is the best way to know if you’re cooking your food to a safe temperature.

Chill

Keep your warm food warm and keep your cold food cold. Know the safe temperatures and how to properly store the food, the announcement advises.

In hot weather, cold food should be refrigerated after being out for up to two hours and only one hour if the air temperature is 90 degrees or warmer. Salads and meat generally should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than a few days before throwing it out.

For more information, a cold food storage chart can be found at https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

To learn more about food safety, visit https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/ and https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/handling-food-safely-while-eating-outdoors.

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