Nobody wants to spend their holiday weekend sick from something they ate, but that may end up being the case if you aren’t careful.
In fact, cases of food poisoning go up in the summer months. Experts say because that’s because the warm temperatures cause bacteria to multiply faster. And it happens more often than you’d think:
The CDC estimates about 1 in 6 Americans (about 48 million people) could suffer from foodborne illness this year. The result: an estimated 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations!
Think it can’t happen to you?
Well, when you cook a burger, how do you know it’s done?
Some people assume it’s ready to eat when it’s brown in the middle. However, looking at the color and texture of food is not enough— you have to use a food thermometer to be sure! According to USDA research, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. Meat and poultry need to be cooked to a safe temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present and color is not a good indicator of safety.
New research just released by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) indicates nearly two-thirds of Americans are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry, but a food thermometer is the safest way to ensure meats have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. When a hamburger is cooked to 160 F, it should be safe to eat.
Want more tips on food safety? See below. And if you have questions about preventing food poisoning and how to keep your family safe this 4th of July and all summer, check out the free resources on FoodSafety.gov. The online database, Ask Karen, has answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to foodborne illness. You can also call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Both are available in English and Spanish.
Here are some more tips:
- o Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter: Many people are surprised at this tip. But since bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature, thawing or marinating foods on the counter is one of the riskiest things you can do when preparing food for your family.
- Food Safety Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.
Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature.
- Food Safety Myth: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.
Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator (or in a cooler with ice—chilled to at least 40 degrees).