Fourth of July hand-washing and food safety tips

Keep your family and guests safe

July Fourth is right around the corner. People will enjoy cookouts and fireworks — hopefully without feeling sick due to food or a bug passed from another partygoer. Warm temperatures create the ideal environment for bacteria and other pathogens to multiply and cause foodborne illnesses. Hand-washing and proper food safety techniques can help keep your holiday party safe.

Hand-washing is an effective do-it-yourself practice for keeping yourself and others from getting sick. Bacteria that cause illnesses can live in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Prevent spreading bugs by washing your hands before, during and after cooking.

When should I wash my hands while I’m cooking?

Washing your hands properly before food preparation is not just for those who work in restaurants. Here are the moments when you should wash your hands while working in the kitchen:

  • Immediately before touching food and clean equipment and utensils.
  • After touching any bare skin other than your clean hands or arms — if you scratch your nose or touch your face while cooking, wash your hands.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After caring for or petting any animals.
  • After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or tissue, using tobacco, eating or drinking.
  • After handling dirty equipment or utensils.
  • When switching from working with raw meat to ready-to-eat food.
  • Before putting on gloves to work with food.
  • If you think you may have gotten your hands dirty while cooking.

How can I prepare food safely?

  • Thaw foods the right way. Bacteria grow quickly at room temperature, so avoid thawing frozen meat on the counter.
  • Marinate food safely. Marinate foods safely in the fridge — bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature.
  •  Don’t rinse any meat before preparing. Rinsing meat, poultry or seafood with water can increase the risk of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters.
  • Wash your produce with clean water. It’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.
  • Cook food to the correct temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Keep cooked foods hot. The possibility of bacterial growth increases after cooking, so make sure to maintain the right temperature until ready to eat.

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