Your Cookout Could Cook Up Harmful Bacteria

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Chances are you will attend some type of outdoor event this Fourth of July.

Of course, no celebration is complete unless there's great food on hand. But there are some safety precautions you should take when it comes to food and hot weather.

First, don't let food sit outside too long. Harmful bacteria could turn your great cookout into a bad memory.

"When the weather is hot you want to make sure that any kinds of food that are outside, maybe it's your cut up fruits or vegetables, your pasta, your potato salad, anything especially of a protein source should only be out, no more than& two hours," Andrea Rumschlag, R.D., from Cleveland Clinic said.

"If it's a really hot day, above 90 degrees, that should actually be under an hour before you take it back in to properly cool off to be put back in the refrigerator," she advised.

Make sure you cook your food thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

And if your cookout will last for hours, plan ahead. Coordinate your food with guests and even stagger some menu items.

"The same rules are going to apply to your cooked foods. They should not be not out at room temperature for longer than two hours," Rumschlag said.

"So if you're having a large cookout, a large barbecue, planning to make a lot of food, it might be a good idea to find out when people are coming to your barbecue so that you can time things," she continued.

The good strategy would be to "cook a few things in the beginning, maybe a few things in the middle so you're not cooking everything at one time and you reduce your risk of having food out for too long of a time past the safe zone," she advised.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Place cool food items in shallow containers on ice.
  • Keep your raw foods and cooked foods separate.
  • Set a timer so you remember how long your food's been sitting out.

Follow these tips and you'll enjoy good food and good health.

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CBN News
Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at