Fourth of July Food Safety Tips: Insights from Kansas State University Food Scientist Karen Blakeslee

By Trish Svoboda

As families and friends gather for the Fourth of July, Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee emphasizes the importance of food safety.

Blakeslee offers these top tips:

· Wash hands thoroughly before handling food and after touching raw meats.

· Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. Research shows 32% of consumers had contaminated plates and cutting boards, with 12% finding contaminated spice bottles.

· Maintain hot foods above 140 degrees Fahrenheit during serving, especially on hot days above 90 F, and refrigerate leftovers within one hour.

· Keep cold foods below 40 F, marinate meats in the refrigerator, and discard used marinade or boil it for use as a dip.

Blakeslee, also coordinator of K-State’s Rapid Response Center for Food Science, advises using a food thermometer for meats: 145 F for steaks and chops, 160 F for ground beef, pork, lamb, and 165 F for poultry. She recommends keeping it simple with ice chests or packs to chill foods and assigning someone to manage the grill for safety during cooking hot dogs, hamburgers, and other grilled foods commonly served at gatherings.

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