Home Make sure to implement food safety into your Fourth of July celebration
US & World

Make sure to implement food safety into your Fourth of July celebration

Fourth of July food
(© Jenifoto – stock.adobe.com)

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages everyone to protect their family and friends from foodborne illnesses by implementing food safety precautions into Fourth of July celebrations.

To help, VDACS offers the following precautions to keep food safe from harmful bacteria.

Food safety precautions

Clean properly: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Thoroughly clean utensils, dishes, and surfaces like the grill and cutting board before use.

Prevent cross-contamination: Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria onto ready-to-eat food, often due to improper handling practices. Always separate raw meat and vegetables by using different cutting boards, plates, and utensils.

Cook thoroughly: Food thermometers are a great tool to ensure that food is properly cooked. Cues like color, firmness, and grill marks are not reliable indicators of doneness. The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts: 145° F with a three-minute rest time.
  • Ground meats: 155° F
  • All poultry: 165° F
  • Fish: 145° F

Store at safe temperatures: Food is considered to be in the “danger zone” when stored in temperatures between 41° F and 135° F. Bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels at these temperatures, which increases the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours, or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F.
  • Keep cold foods at 41° F or below. Use refrigerators or coolers filled with ice until ready to serve.
  • Hot foods should be stored at a temperature of 135° F or above. Slow cookers and warming trays may be used to keep food at the proper temperature.

Prevent cross-contamination: Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving, until it has been washed in hot, soapy water.

Please visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for more information.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.