Fourth of July is a holiday typically spent with family, fireworks, and lots of food. The great American celebration is iconic for cookouts and outdoor celebrations in the warm summer weather. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is encouraging food safety and other public health recommendations while celebrating this weekend.

While cooking those burger and hot dogs, keep the raw meats and their juices separate from cooked meant and ready to eat foods. Be sure to use different utensils and plates when removing cooked meat from the grill and have extra cleaning supplies, plates and cutlery on hand.

The USDA also suggests using a food thermometer instead of relying on the color to know when meat is done.

“More than 25 percent of burgers can turn brown inside before they are fully cooked. Although your grilled foods may look done, foodborne illness causing germs are not killed until the safe internal temperature has been reached. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat,” says FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker.

The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are as follows.

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F then rest for three-minutes
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb and veal): 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F

If temperatures are above 90° F food should not be left outside more than an hour and no more than two hours if below 90° F to avoid food poisoning. Food should be stored at or below 40° F and this includes leftovers from the grill, cold salads and cut fruits and vegetables. If you are unsure how long a food item has been sitting out, throw it away immediately.

For further questions call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).