Tips for avoiding food poisoning this Fourth of July

Bacteria grow very well in the warm summer months

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Food poisoning peaks in summer months, so properly handling and cooking meat is your best protection against getting sick.

People will be firing up their grills this Fourth of July, but cooking meat can be tricky. Bacteria grow very well in the warm summer months, so you’ll want to avoid undercooking your meat.

Dr. Ira Helfand of Family Care Medical Center in Springfield, told 22News, “A lot of chicken is contaminated with salmonella, and a lot of hamburger is contaminated with strains of e. coli, so both of these need to be cooked fully in order to be safe to eat.”

Proper preparation and cooking will keep your cookout food healthy for you. Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until you’re ready to grill.

And once you’re ready, remember to wash your hands both before and after handling raw meat. Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking, to make sure everything is clean.

Robert Bishop of F&W Caterers told 22News that the best the way to make sure your meat is ready for consumption is by using a thermometer. He said, “This little handy dandy thermometer, right here. Poultry, beef, pork, it all has temperatures and I happen to know them all.”

Most meats should be cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees, unless otherwise instructed.

If potato salad is on your menu, you don’t want to leave that out for too long. Definitely keep it in the shade. According to the Food Network, foods that require refrigeration should not sit out for more than two hours.

If outside temperatures are over 90 degrees, the “two hour rule” becomes “one hour.”