CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As we gather for the summer holidays, with cookouts and picnics, it’s important to keep in mind how you prepare, store and serve your food for your family.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging you to let your 4th of July celebration end with fireworks , not food poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control. each year, food poisoning sends roughly 128,000 Americans to the hospital and also results in 3,000 deaths.
“In Charleston, it’s hot in the summer, and it’s the heat that makes micro organisms grow quickly. So think about keeping your hot food hot and cold things cold,” says Debbie Petitpain with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Petitpain says foods that are at highest risk of making people sick are proteins like meat, dairy and eggs.
“So your chicken salad, fried chicken, lunch meats. You also want to be careful about things mixed in mayonnaise. So potato salad, macoronni, and salad. It’s very easy for micro organisms to grow in those items as well,” says Petitpain.
If you’re transporting food for an outing make sure to store your food in a cooler that has ice packs and try to keep your food out of the sun Petitpain said.
Only take food out when it’s time to eat and then immediately store the food back in a cool place.
She says cold food should be kept at 5 degrees or colder, and hot food should be kept at 60 degrees or hotter.
Petitpain says make sure to eat that hot food item within four hours to stay clear of the temperature danger zone.
It’s also important when grilling to not cross contaminate.
“So making sure your cooked food doesn’t touch things where the raw things have been. The same thing with veggies too don’t cut veggies on a cutting board where raw meat has been,” says Petitpain.
Playing it safe with food only takes a few seconds and it’s always worth it.
She says if you do have a food borne illness you usually will know within the first 30 minutes to as long as three days.
Symptoms can include nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.