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Preventing Foodborne Illness this Barbeque Season

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Madison, WIWho doesn't love a barbeque? It's one of America's favorite summer pastimes, but all too often we hear reports of people getting sick from eating contaminated food. Last month, President Barack Obama pledged to revamp protection of the nation's food supply to help prevent future disease outbreaks: Numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness have exposed "haphazard oversight of the nation's far-flung food supply chain". Meanwhile, there are several steps we can take to reduce the risk of getting food poisoning.

BarbequeAccording to Barbara Ingham, food science specialist with the University of Wisconsin, keeping foods properly chilled is one important way to prevent the growth of harmful foodborne pathogens, "Chilling foods at the proper temperatures is one of the best ways to prevent or slow the growth of these bacteria," she says.

Barbeque Safety Checklist

Play it safe this summer—and all year long—with the following simple procedures:

Wash your hands before handling food and again when you switch from one food to another.

Sanitize counter tops and cooking utensils with bleach sanitizer: combine 1 tsp bleach with 3 cups water in a labeled spray bottle; spray prepped areas, let stand a few seconds, rinse with clear water and air dry or use clean towels.

Keep food chilled at 40 degrees F or below. Keep perishable food in coolers until just ready to cook or eat—that goes for raw veggies as well as meat products.

Cook safely: Food safety experts say food thermometers are the only way to cook
foods safely without overcooking; digital thermometers are inexpensive—pack one in your utensils kit. (If you marinate food items, set some marinade aside and refrigerate—do not use leftover marinade from raw food on cooked food.)

Keep hot food hot at or 140 degrees F to prevent the growth of bacteria and reduce the chance of foodborne illness.

Separate raw and cooked food: Raw food can cross-contaminate cooked food and cause foodborne illness. Keep raw and cooked food separate and covered.

Never use the same serving pieces, i.e., plates and cutlery, for raw and cooked food.
Raw meat juices can spread bacteria to your safely cooked food and cause
foodborne illness.

READ ABOUT FOODBORNE ILLNESS LAWSUITS

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