Temperature is key this Fourth of July, according to Sacramento County officials.
The county has provided tips for keeping food safe, and most center around temperatures that discourage bacteria. But one old standby is still important, according to a press release.
“Frequent hand washing is by far the most important safety tip for all of us to remember,” Environmental Health Division Chief John Rogers is quoted as saying. “Each of us can play a role in preventing foodborne illness with good personal hygiene and safe food practices.”
Below is the full list of tips from Sacramento County:
Never thaw your meat on the counter or defrost it in hot water. Storing foods at room temperatures is not a safe practice. This is when bacteria multiply most rapidly. There are only three safe ways to thaw food: in a refrigerator that can hold 41 degrees F, under cold running water, or in a microwave oven.
Be especially careful with raw meats. Bacteria present on raw meats can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw meats can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw meats, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.
Remember to use soap and warm water and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you are preparing this at an outside venue where a sink is not available, bring a large container of bottled water with a spigot. Make sure you have liquid hand soap, paper towels, and some unscented, liquid chlorine bleach mixed with water (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) for sanitizing your cutting surfaces.
Don’t forget that grills need an annual cleaning after winter storage by scouring the grate with a wire brush. Spray the grid with oven cleaner and rinse thoroughly.
Again, temperature is the key here. Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods. Be sure to keep foods cold when transporting the marinated foods to your event.
Remember to keep your meat cold until ready to grill. Always make sure to cook your food at a high enough temperature. If you are working with a gas grill, set the temperature no lower than 325 degrees F and be sure your meat is completely thawed. If you are working with charcoal, cut the meat open before serving to make sure it is cooked or bring a food thermometer with you to test doneness. Ground beef patties should be cooked to 155 degrees F and chicken to 165 degrees F. Large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 degrees F for medium rare or to 160 degrees F for medium. Pork should be cooked to at least 145 degrees F. Be sure to clean the thermometer between uses. When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that previously held raw food.
Safe Serving and Leftover Handling
Perishable foods should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. Be especially aware of eggs. A cooler for perishable food is essential. It is important to keep it closed, out of the sun and, if possible, covered for further insulation. If possible, bring two coolers – one for drinks and another for highly perishable food. Pack your coolers with several inches of ice, blocks of ice, or frozen gel-packs. Use water-tight containers to store food and to prevent food from coming into contact with melted ice. For optimum results, promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap tightly for best quality.