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Press Releases

July 3, 2023
Don’t Let Foodborne Illnesses Spoil Your Fourth of July
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages everyone to protect their family and friends from food borne illnesses by implementing food safety precautions into their Fourth of July celebration. To help, VDACS offers the following precautions to keep food safe from harmful bacteria:

Clean properly: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Thoroughly clean utensils, dishes, and surfaces like the grill and cutting board before use.

Prevent cross-contamination: Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria onto ready-to-eat food, often due to improper handling practices. Always separate raw meat and vegetables by using different cutting boards, plates, and utensils.

Cook thoroughly: Food thermometers are a great tool to ensure that food is properly cooked. Cues like color, firmness, and grill marks are not reliable indicators of doneness. The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts: 145° F with a three-minute rest time.
  • Ground meats: 155° F
  • All poultry: 165° F
  • Fish: 145° F

Store at safe temperatures: Food is considered to be in the “Danger Zone” when stored in temperatures between 41° F and 135° F. Bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels at these temperatures, which increases the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours, or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F.
  • Keep cold foods at 41° F or below. Use refrigerators or coolers filled with ice until ready to serve.
  • Hot foods should be stored at a temperature of 135° F or above. Slow cookers and warming trays may be used to keep foods at the proper temperature.

Prevent Cross-Contamination: Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving, until it has been washed in hot, soapy water.

Please visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for more information on safely handling food outdoors, www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/handling-food-safely-while-eating-outdoors.

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