Keep your 'Fourth' independent of food safety issues

Jun 30, 2016

Happy Fourth of July! It's time to get your barbecues grilling, and your potlucks and pool parties started. So, Independence Day is also a great time to remember to keep “free and independent” of foodborne illnesses all year long.

Food poisoning is a serious health threat in the United States, especially during the hot summer months. In fact, 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year,according to the U.S. Department of Food & Agriculture (USDA). That's not all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get food poisoning each year, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

That's why the USDA and The Ad Council have teamed up on a new national food safety campaign.  The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the risks of food poisoning, and motivate the public to practice safe food handling behaviors – Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Primarily, the four steps towards food safety can be summarized as:

  • Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
  • Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.
  • Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.

The USDA reports the campaign includes English- and Spanish-language television, radio, print and online advertising. There's a Facebook page and Twitter account with more food safety tips, if you'd like to follow along.

Handling food safety on the road

Before you take off on a road trip, camping adventure or boating excursion, don't forget to pack along common sense food safety advice. You'll also need a good cooler.

Remember, warns the USDA, don't let food sit out for more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F. And discard any food left out more than 2 hours; after only 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.

Get more food safety tips for traveling from the USDA.

Food safety tips for college students

As summer comes to an end, don't forget to pack along some food safety advice for those new college students in your life.

Many college students are starting to cook for themselves for the first time, and food safety isn't always at the top of their concerns. They might need a little guidance about how long that leftover pizza is still safe to eat, or why raw meat should be kept separate from other ingredients while cooking.

The USDA offers these food safety facts for college students. Consider packing a fact sheet alongside their bed linens and kitchen pans.

This story is also available in Spanish.

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Source: UC Food Observer blog