USDA reminds Americans to avoid
foodborne bacteria on the Fourth of July
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[July 02, 2016]
DC - No matter where you find yourself on the Fourth of July, you
will probably see lots of food, beverages, and grass-stained
sneakers. Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue in the great outdoors,
traveling to see family or friends, or spending time at home, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) is urging everyone to take extra food safety
precautions when planning their menu.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates
that 1 in 6 Americans (that’s 48 million people) suffer from
foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000
hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
“Because foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in
warmer temperatures, foodborne illness can spike during summer,”
said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “This is
likely because people are spending more time outside – away from the
sink and equipment in the kitchen that help consumers keep food
The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in
which foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly to dangerous levels that
can cause illness. Leaving perishables out too long in the Danger
Zone is one of the most common mistakes people make, especially
during warmer months.
Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone
The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by USDA food safety
experts, routinely gets calls from consumers with questions about
the perishable foods left out too long. Below are their
recommendations on how to steer clear of the Danger Zone this Fourth
Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should not be
left out more than two hours if the temperature is at or below 90
⁰F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 ⁰F. Since
the weather will likely be very hot on July 4th, food should be
returned to the cooler within an hour. If you are not sure how long
food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
Always keep cold food COLD, at or below 40 °F, in coolers or in
containers with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep
hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated
containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays and/or slow
cookers. If food needs to be reheated, reheat it to 165 °F.
Pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to ensure food stays at
or below 40 °F. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers
for fast chilling and easier use.
Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the
food cooler isn’t opened frequently. Keep the cooler in the shade,
and try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool.
Replenish the ice if it melts.
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Use the food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and
seafood. Use our Is It Done Yet? guide to learn where to place the thermometer
in each item. You absolutely cannot tell whether the meat is safely cooked by
If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior
to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator – not on the
counter. If you plan to reuse the marinade from raw meat or poultry, make sure
to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
To ensure safety, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling
and refrigerated to 40F or below within two hours.
If you have food storage questions, download our FoodKeeper application. This
app offers guidance on the safe storage or more than 400 food and beverage
items. It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing you served your dish safely.
As always, FSIS would like everyone to remember the four easy food safety steps
of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill and have a food safe Fourth of July!
If you have questions about the Danger Zone, or any other food safety topics,
call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food
safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.
[U.S. Department of Agriculture]