It is that time of year once more. Summer is in full swing, the grills are fired up and good times are sure to follow. It is also the time of year where most of the incidents of food poisioning occur. Year in and year out, thousands of people end up sick from under-cooked or spoiled food. So, before you get too far into your celebration, be sure to check out these quick tips that will ensure that you and your guests have a healthy holiday. 1. The biggest culprit responsible for giving you food poisoning is under-cooked meat. In general, meat products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. You can find a reliable and inexpensive meat thermometer at just about any retail store. If you are unsure of the proper cooking temperature of your chosen cuts, then look it up before you get started. 2. The second largest perpetrator of poisoning is spoiled food. Many foods can only set out on the table for so long before they start to grow bacteria. The general rule of thumb here is if the dish contains ingredients from the fridge (e.g. potato salad, egg salad, etc.), then the dish should remain refrigerated. A great way to keep these foods on the table without getting your guests sick is to place a smaller portion of your dish into a small container. Place that container into a larger one filled with ice, and set it out for service. Once the container is empty, fill it back up with the leftovers from the fridge. Just make sure that you refresh the ice bowl from time to time as well to keep these dishes cold. 3. Another reason many people end up getting sick from food is improper handling of it. If you have just formed your burger patties and set them on the grill, then it would behoove you to wash up before you get into making the macaroni salad. The cross-contamination of raw meat with other food products will get someone sick faster than anything. This also applies to tongs and spatulas. If you've used a utensil on raw meat it should be cleaned prior to finishing the meat on your grill. This is, of course, nowhere near all-encompassing, but it should give you a handy quick reference to use to make your get-togethers fun and safe for all.
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