Janell Goodwin, USDA Food Safety Expert
The Fourth of July holiday is one of the most popular times of the year to break out the grill so it’s critical that consumers take the necessary steps to protect their families from foodborne illness (commonly known as food poisoning). Incidents surge during the summer because harmful bacteria multiply more quickly in the hot and humid climate, and more people are eating outside at picnics, the beach and on camping trips, away from the conveniences of the kitchen that help them stay safe. You also can’t see or smell bacteria on meat or poultry, so it’s important to make sure your favorite summer foods are being cooked properly.
Research shows millions of Americans are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families from getting ill. For example, 97% of participants in a recent USDA study did not effectively what their hands before and during meal preparation. And nearly two-thirds of Americans are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry even though 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it has reached a safe internal temperature.
In preparation for Independence Day festivities and throughout the summer months, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is shedding light on the high risks of food poisoning and aiming to motivate consumers to take specific actions to reduce their risk and keep their families healthy.
For more information or to get questions answered directly, you can visit www.FoodSafety.gov to learn about food safety practices and access “Ask Karen,” an online database with over 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses. Additionally, consumers can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.