Keep food safety at the top of your mind when you cook out this summer.
A key is using a food thermometer when you prepare meat or poultry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
“The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer,” FSIS Administrator Al Almanza said in an agency news release.
“It is a simple step that can stop your family and guests from getting foodborne illness,” he added.
Every year, about 48 million people in the United States get food-borne illnesses, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But many folks fail to take precautions. For example, only 34 percent of Americans use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers, according to the USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Recommended internal temperatures for favorite foods are 160 degrees Fahrenheit for hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats; 165 degrees for poultry; and 145 degrees for whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal and beef, as well as fish.
Remember these safety tips, too: Don’t use the same utensils and plates for raw and cooked foods. Put leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze them immediately. Throw away food that has been left out longer than two hours.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on barbecue food safety.