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Food Poisoning Health Center

10 Rules for Keeping Food Safe Outdoors

Food-borne illnesses are no picnic, so prepare your food the proper way
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5) Invest in a meat thermometer.

The time frame necessary to cook foods thoroughly on a grill may be different from your stove at home. "A meat thermometer is the best way to be sure you have cooked foods adequately," says DuBois.

Unfortunately, people aren't always going to take the time to check hamburgers on the barbecue with a thermometer, says Slade, who is also an associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Hamburger meat can be very risky if not handled properly. Unlike a steak, hamburger meat is chopped and reduced, and the bacteria may get internalized, says Slade. "Once you sear a steak on the outside, it tends to be safe. This isn't the case with hamburger, which needs to be cooked until the meat in the middle is brown."

Hamburgers aren't the only foods that should be thoroughly cooked -- eggs shouldn't be runny, hot dogs should be piping hot, and chicken shouldn't be pink in the middle. Also, don't partially pre-cook meats or poultry to "finish off" later, which may facilitate bacterial growth, and remember to defrost meat or poultry in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

6) Tell your kids about food safety.

When you teach your kids about safety, don't forget to tell them the rules about how to handle foods. "It's very important that children learn from a very early age about the importance of hand washing and that they are aware that foods can make them ill if they aren't properly handled," says DuBois.

7) Enjoy non-perishable snacks.

Don't let a lack of snacks spoil your fun. If you're planning to be outside for a while, bring some non-perishable foods. Nuts, chips, peanut butter, breads, and granola bars are all examples of foods that won't spoil and are easy to transport.

8) Play it safe with leftovers.

If you plan on enjoying leftovers for days to come, don't keep food sitting out for two hours repeatedly, which Slade says may cause problems. Instead, remove the portion you want and return leftover containers to the fridge promptly, and freeze portions you don't plan on eating in the near future.

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