WASHINGTON (KCAU) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a reminder to keep food safety in mind while celebrating July Fourth.

“Wherever you go this summer, don’t forget to bring your safe food handling practices along for the adventure,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin. “As temperatures rise, the risk for foodborne illness does too. Always remember that whether you’re grilling for the Fourth of July, camping, or boating, you should wash your hands before and during food prep.”

The statement from the USDA states that sanitation is key when trying to combat any potential foodborne illnesses. This includes washing your hands and sanitizing cooking areas before preparing foods as well as avoiding any possible cross-contamination.

The reminder also mentions that due to the warmer temperatures, food safety can be a bit more of a challenge in the summer and hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods should be kept cold.

Food enters what they call the “Danger Zone” when temperatures are in the range of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Being in the “Danger Zone” for too long can cause an increase of bacteria. The USDA included a few tips that you can find below.

  • Keep cold foods at a temperature of 40 F or below by keeping food nestled in ice, in a cooler with a cold source, or refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Keep hot foods at a temperature of 140 F or above by placing food on a grill, in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes or slow cookers.

They also recommend the regular use of a thermometer when cooking instead of relying on visual cues like grill marks, color, taste, and firmness since these may come with the risk of food poisoning. You can find the recommended temperatures for food below.

  • Cook beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to 145 F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
  • Cook fish to 145 F.
  • Cook ground meats (beef, pork, lamb and veal) to 160 F.
  • Cook ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 F.
  • Cook egg dishes to 160 F.
  • Cook poultry (whole or ground) to 165 F.