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Cookout safety tips

Food safety tips for your Fourth of July cookout.
Oklahoman Published: July 4, 2012

Cookout safety for your health

When planning for a hamburger cookout it is a good idea to be reminded of food safety to prevent food-borne illness.

• A general guideline is to fill a cooler with a fourth ice or frozen cold packs and with three-fourths food. Pack all uncooked meat to be grilled very carefully in sealed containers in the bottom of the prechilled cooler to prevent contaminating other foods. Place a layer of ice or cold packs on top. Next, add other perishable foods such as raw vegetables, salads and mayonnaise. All foods should be sealed tightly in plastic containers, jars or bags. Foods should be cold before packing. The cooler will not adequately chill foods put in at room temperature. Once the cooler is filled, secure the lid and open as infrequently as possible. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees or colder to minimize bacteria growth.

• Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water before handling foods or eating.

• Have a separate cooler for beverages. And keep ice to be served with the beverages in sealed bags. Do not use the loose ice in the cooler to serve with beverages.

For more tips, see Page 3D

For Your Health

Cookout Safety

When planning for a hamburger cookout it is a good idea to be reminded of food safety to prevent food-borne illness.

• Pack nonperishable foods and other items such as paper plates, platters for cooking and serving the burgers, cooking and serving utensils, meat thermometer, drinking cups, napkins, paper towels, plastic bags and aluminum foil in a clean picnic basket or laundry basket.

• Pack a water jug and soap, premoistened towelettes for cleaning hands or a hand sanitizer formulated to kill bacteria. Include items to clean the outdoor grill.

• Once arriving at the cookout destination place the cooler in a cool place such as under a shade tree or picnic table and not in the hot car trunk or in the sun. Remove only the food from the cooler that will be eaten right away. Keep remaining food in the cooler. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Hot dishes prepared in advance can be wrapped with several layers of newspapers and then stored in an insulated container.

• Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees or until they are brown throughout with no pink showing. Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or hotter. Use separate utensils and platters for raw foods and after they are cooked to prevent contaminating the cooked food. Never use a spatula to place the raw meat on the grill and then to remove the cooked meat from the grill. And never use the same plate used for the raw meat or poultry to hold the food after it is cooked.

• Foods should not be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. Never leave food out for more than one hour if temperatures are over 90 degrees.


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