How to avoid foodborne illnesses this spring, according to USDA

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"Groceries" by Phillip Stewart, some rights reserved

NATIONWIDE, (WOWO) – Warmer temperatures bring events like weddings and graduation parties! And with celebration, comes lots of meal prepping and cooking for big crowds!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to warns the consumers of the risk of foodborne illnesses if food is not prepared correctly.

Foodborne illnesses cause approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the U.S.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering tips on how to properly handle, cook and store food when serving large groups of people.

The four basic steps to safety include: clean, separate, cook and chill.

  1. Clean: Clean hands frequently with warm soapy water, especially before and after handling raw food; thoroughly wash cutting boards, counter tops and utensils with hot soapy water.
  2. Separate: Use separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods. That way, you’re preventing cross-contamination.
  3. Cook: Always use a food thermometer when cooking. Measure the internal temperature of meats, poultry, seafood and egg products before serving.
  4. Chill: Perishable food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Make sure your cold food is kept cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below) by serving it in smaller portions and refilling when needed. Hot food should be kept hot (140 degrees Fahrenheit or above). You can keep food warm by serving it on warming trays or using a slow cooker.

Another way to avoid foodborne illness is to alter the way you shop for groceries. For instance, make sure to pick up cold items last and bring them home immediately to prevent them from spoiling.

Raw meat and poultry should be placed in plastic bags to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other foods.

Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854).

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