TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Fourth of July weekend is no doubt different this year; however, the plan for many Americans is still to celebrate by throwing some food on the grill.
Keeping social distancing in mind for those small gatherings, it’s important to not forget about taking the steps to prevent food poisoning.
Research by the USDA shows only one-third of American’s keep hot food, like burgers and brats, warm after cooking, but only 16 percent keep things like potato salad and guacamole in ice.
But there is some good news when it comes to COVID-19 and preparing for cookouts.
“Technically there’s no evidence at this time to suggest that food, or food packaging, is going to be a way that COVID-19 gets transmitted," said Meredith Carothers, a food safety expert at USDA. “However, we are still recommending to follow social distancing practices and to stay far away from your guest. Also, stay away from things like sharing finger foods and try to limit the amount of touching you have between people on touch surfaces and using things like certain utensils.”
Before serving any hot food this weekend it’s important to check it first by using a thermometer.
“They are very easy to find nowadays in the grocery stores, in the department stores and usually under $10 or $15,” Carothers said. “So they are quite accessible nowadays and they’re so easy to use. It’s the only accurate way to ensure that your food is fully cooked to a safe internal temperature.”
One more thing to keep in mind: If cooking outside this weekend make sure those leftovers are refrigerated one-hour after you finish serving food.
If your food sits out in the sun any longer than that the risk of food poisoning skyrockets.