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Healthy Living

Memorial Day is the start of outdoor summer cooking and eating but keep in mind food safety for barbecues and picnics

23 May, 2023
Produced by:
Memorial Day is the start of outdoor summer cooking and eating but keep in mind food safety for barbecues and picnics

Memorial Day weekend is a time to remember and honor the men and women who have served our country. It’s also the traditional start of the summer vacation and travel season – a time for family getaways and flavorful barbecues and picnics.

During this time, it’s important to take precautions when it comes to safe food handling, preparation and cooking, to avoid food-borne illnesses like Salmonella and E. coli, which can be serious and, in some cases, life-threatening.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million (or roughly one out of six Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.2

Typical food-poisoning symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and fever, all of which may range from mild to serious and can last from a few hours to several days.3 Health care professionals caution that certain people have an increased risk for foodborne illness including pregnant women, older adults, young children and people with weakened immune systems.4

To help you keep your families healthy and protect them from food poisoning, here are some general food and kitchen hygiene tips to help you safely prepare and serve your Memorial Day meal.5 Foodborne illnesses tend to increase during the summer months because bacteria multiply faster when it’s warm, so following food safety guidelines is especially critical for raw meats, summer salads, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, which are among the most perishable foods at cookouts.6

  • Clean everything: It is important for those preparing and handling food to frequently wash their hands before and after they start cooking, and to use fresh, clean plates and utensils for serving cooked food.7
  • Do not cross contaminate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat food unless you keep them separate.8
  • Cook to the right temperature: The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature.9
  • Refrigerate perishable food within two hours. When food is left unrefrigerated for more than two hours, bacteria grow rapidly.10 For temperatures over 90F, food should be refrigerated within an hour.11

Have fun this Memorial Day, but be mindful of food safety to help keep your family healthy.

Disclaimer

The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.

  1. Food Poisoning Symptoms | CDC
  2. Foodborne Germs and Illnesses | CDC
  3. Food Poisoning Symptoms | CDC
  4. People With a Higher Risk of Food Poisoning | Food Safety | CDC
  5. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
  6. Food Safety by Events and Seasons | FoodSafety.gov
  7. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
  8. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
  9. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
  10. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
  11. Four Steps to Food Safety | CDC
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