How many times have you heard someone in your family yell from the kitchen asking if something in the fridge is still safe to eat? How many times have you wondered how long you can safely store cooked foods or foods waiting to be cooked? Do you know how long you can safely store foods at room temperature before they may make someone sick?

With the beginning of grilling and picnic season, these are important things to know, because according to the USDA, it's estimated that almost 128,000 Americans are hospitalized with food poisoning each year, and we don't want to add your family and friends to that number.

Bacteria will grow quickly in warm temperatures so anything that is perishable like raw meats, dairy, etc need to be stored at 40F or below. If you forget to put that raw chicken on the grill and it has set out on your kitchen counter for more than two hours, it isn't safe to use. Toss it. If the temperature is 90 degrees or warmer, reduce that time to an hour.

Pack foods in a cooler to keep them safe and if you do have salads or other foods that need to be kept cool when serving, think about putting the serving bowl on a tray filled with ice. It will stay safer longer.

If you use tongs or forks to place raw meat onto the grill, don't use the same utensils to take the cooked food off the grill, you'll contaminate the cooked food and someone could get sick.

There's no shame in using a food thermometer when you're grilling, that way you know the food has been cooked to the proper internal temperature. A good rule of thumb is 145F for beef, pork, lamb, and veal, 160F for ground meat, and poultry should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Have fun this summer, but be smart and safe with your food.




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