How to reduce your risk of foodborne illness at your 4th of July barbecue

Barbecues, pool parties, and other outdoor celebrations can be some of the most enjoyable moments of summer.  But these get-togethers tend to involve food, and bringing food outside can increase the potential for foodborne illnesses.  Just in time for the July 4th holiday, the Food Safe Families campaign–a multimedia public service campaign run by the Ad Council, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the FDA and the CDC–is debuting.  Through a series of humorous  public service announcements that you can see soon on TV (or click here to watch online), the campaign’s goal is to raise awareness of foodborne illness while helping to educate consumers about what actions they can take to reduce their risk.

The campaign advocates the following safe food handling procedures:

  • Clean: Anyone preparing food should use soap and water to wash their hands, clean kitchen surfaces like countertops, and clean any utensils to be used.
  • Separate: Use different cutting boards to ensure that raw meats stay separated from other foods you’re preparing.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure you’re cooking foods to the proper temperature.
  • Chill: Quickly chill raw and prepared foods.

When you’re preparing meat and poultry for a delicious 4th of July cookout, also remember to keep these tips in mind:

  • Thaw your meat/poultry before cooking it so that it cooks more evenly.  You can thaw it slowly but safely in your refrigerator.  If you need to thaw it more quickly, you can use your microwave to defrost it, but only if it will be put on the grill immediately afterward.
  • Marinate meat or poultry in your refrigerator, not on your counter. 
  • If you’re going to be transporting food to another event or location, use an insulated cooler with ice packs; the cooler needs to keep your food at a temperature of under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When taking cooked food off the grill, put it on a clean platter.  Don’t re-use the same platter that had previously held raw meat or poultry.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers quickly, and throw out any food that’s been left out for over 2 hours.
  • Want more details on how to barbecue your food safely?  Click here!

Get more helpful tips on food safety by visiting


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