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Food safety tips for a safe and healthy 4th of July

Practicing proper food handling techniques will protect yourself, your family and friends from food-borne illness and food contamination. Here are some tips from the Minnesota Beef Council to keep in mind when preparing, storing and cooking food as you celebrate July 4th.

Wash hands, utensils, and food preparation surfaces

Food safety begins with hand-washing even in outdoor settings. And it can be as simple as using a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands. Keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Preparing fruits

and vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten, should be rinsed under running tap water before preparing or packing them. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled "ready-to-eat," "washed," or "triple washed" need not be washed. Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.

Safe grilling tips

Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don't reuse marinade. Don't use the same platter and utensils that previously held raw meat or seafood to serve cooked meats and seafood.

If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven, or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill. When it's time to cook the food, cook it thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached an adequate internal temperature before serving. Irradiated ground beef provides an additional layer of food safety.

Proper cooking


• Beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts-145 degrees F for medium rare, 160 degrees F for medium, and 170 degrees F for well done.

• Ground beef and ground pork-160 degrees F.

• Ground poultry-165 degrees F.

• Poultry breasts-170 degrees F. Poultry Legs and Thighs-180 degrees F.

• Whole poultry (take measurement in the thigh)-180 degrees F.

• Fin fish-145 degrees F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

• Shrimp, lobster, and crab-the meat should be pearly and opaque.

• Clams, oysters, and mussels-until the shells are open.

Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals where it can overcook.

Serving food safely

Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Do not use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water.

Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 140 degrees F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container. Don't let perishable food sit out longer than 2 hours. Food should not sit out for more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.

A note about

transporting food

Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be held at or below 41 degrees F. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while it is still frozen so that it stays colder longer. Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped so their juices don't contaminate cooked foods or foods eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables. After washing fruits and vegetables dry them with a clean cloth towel or paper towel before packing them.

Keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than in a hot trunk. Limit the times the cooler is opened.

If you have questions, please contact the Minnesota Beef Council at 952-854-6980 or visit their website at