As funny a story as it makes 10 years from now, no host really wants to see their guests bent over from food poisoning, throwing up in the shrubbery. So here's how to NOT be that host.

Think it won't happen? You're right...it might not happen. But, according to the USDA...

Millions of Americans suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths...But with key food safety steps easily integrated into your cookout plans, hosts can provide everyone with a great time this Fourth of July.

WHERE DO YOU START?

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I know this sounds too simple, but first...wash your hands. Soap, water, sing happy birthday to yourself twice, rinse, dry with a CLEAN towel (or paper towel), then begin. If you touch your face or hair, or wet chicken/pork/beef, wash 'em again.

If you touch your spices or jars after dipping your hands in chicken boobs, you should wash the spices and jars, too. Easier to wash your hands, tho. Seriously...grabbing the pepper while your hands are gross leaves that gross on the pepper.

Second, make sure the place you'll set out the food has a way to keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold. Keep the food out of the danger zone (40-140⁰F). If you're using ice, remember to replenish it regularly.

PEOPLE LIKE TO FIGHT AGAINST THIS ONE

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Cook the food to the correct temp. With all the ground beef, chicken, and pork recalls over e. Coli, cooking the meat to the proper temperature (using a meat thermometer) is the way to make sure it's safe. Here's what the USDA says those temperatures are:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F with a three-minute rest time
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Ground meats (beef, lamb, veal, pork): 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F

A FEW EXTRA THINGS:

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  • If it's 90 or cooler, you can keep food outside for 2 hours. Even if you're cooling/heating.
  • If it's above 90, you get one hour outside.
  • Get leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours (one hour if it's over 90)
  • If you don't know how long its been sitting out, toss it out.
  • Except for potato salad. The longer that sits in the hot sun, the better the spoiled mayo tastes!*

*That last one is a joke. DO NOT LEAVE POTATO SALAD OUTSIDE UNTIL IT IS GROSS AND WILL KILL YOU.

The USDA has food safety help available. Just chat at AskKaren.gov.

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