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Millions of Americans will be dusting off their grills for Independence Day. St David’s Round Rock Medical Center wants to make sure you are taking proper steps when preparing your 4th of July meals. Follow these tips to help keep you and your guests free of tummy troubles and out of the emergency room this holiday weekend.

Steps to Ensure Proper Food Safety

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food—especially when handling raw meats.
  2. Use separate cutting boards—one for raw meats and another for fruits and vegetables.
  3. Wash all surfaces that come in contact with your food with warm, sudsy water after food preparation, this includes cutting boards, countertops, utensils and knives.
  4. Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave. Never thaw food at room temperature. Remember to allow enough time for thawing before cooking (consult your cookbooks or meat labels for recommended thawing times).
  5. Don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
  6. Use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to a safe internal temperature, making sure to place the thermometer at the thickest, inner section of the meat. Cook to an internal temperature of 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats and 165°F for poultry.
  7. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking. Make sure to consume refrigerated food within 3-4 days. Don’t taste or consume foods that look or smell questionable. When in doubt, throw it out!
  8. Keep your refrigerator temperature below 40°F and your freezer below 0°F.
  9. Separate raw meats and seafood from prepared foods, raw fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator and freezer.

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