Health Dept. issues tips on food safety during 4th of July holiday

Temperature Tips When Grilling, Cooking Meats

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A few extra food precautions can help keep your Fourth of July holiday from turning red, white and “ew.”

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department encourages safe handling and preparation of food as people enjoy summer, holiday picnics and cookouts. The following food safety guidelines can help you avoid food-borne illness from seasonal meals shared with family and friends:

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  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often. To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
  • Separate – don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate for holding raw meat and transporting cooked meat.
  • Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. Thoroughly clean the outer surface of any fruits or vegetables before slicing and keep work surface and utensils clean and sanitized. Promptly refrigerate sliced melon, including cantaloupe and watermelon, at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Follow the cooking guidelines listed below for proper meat preparation. Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.
    • Ground beef                                                             160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
    • Poultry and stuffed meats                                  165 degrees F for 15 seconds
    • Pork products                                                         150 degrees F for 15 seconds
    • Other products                                                       140 degrees F for 15 seconds
    • Reheating leftovers                                               165 degrees F for 15 seconds
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftovers should be cooled and maintained within two hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or frozen at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. When you are unsure how long leftover food has been out of proper serving temperature, a good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out!”