With a warm-up in temperatures, the start of the summer grilling season is underway in central Minnesota and the U.S.D.A. is asking everyone to make sure fun in the sun doesn’t turn into being stuck in bed with a food-borne illness.

Janice Lopez-Munoz with the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says there are four common-sense steps to ensuring food safety, the first of which is “clean.” “We want consumers to clean their hands, clean surfaces, utensils with soap and warm water before cooking,” she said, and added, “Always wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling any raw meats and poultry.”

Keeping raw meats separated from other food is also important, she said, “Using separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat and poultry and foods that are ready to eat.”

Cooking meats to the proper temperature is a must, and Lopez-Munoz said that should be done using a food thermometer.

Finally, Lopez-Munoz said keeping foods chilled can also help prevent food poisoning and, “We need to chill foods promptly if we are not consuming them immediately after cooking. Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.”


She said about 128,000 people are hospitalized for food-borne illness in the U.S. each year