Food Poisoning: Meaty Madness!

It's sad, but true: food poisoning can happen easily in the summertime when temps and spirits are both high. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure your family's safety from foodbourne illnesses! Check out these myths and "meat" the truth!

 Myth: You can tell if a hamburger is done by its color. If the meat is brown—with no traces of pink—it's safe to eat.

Not necessarily. Sometimes meat can appear fully cooked even though it has not reached a safe internal temperature (160 °F for ground beef). The only way to tell if meat is cooked thoroughly is with a food thermometer.

Myth: You should wash chicken prior to cooking.

Many people think that rinsing chicken prior to cooking can rid the poultry of harmful bacteria. Washing raw chicken or meat can, in fact, spread bacteria by splashing uncooked juices onto to the sink, countertops or other kitchen surfaces. Cooking poultry to the appropriate temperature (internal temperature of 165 degrees for chicken and 160 °F for beef) will kill any bacteria that may be on the meat.

Myth: Microwaving food helps kill bacteria.

Some people believe that microwaving is a safer way to reheat foods because the electromagnetic radiation kills bacteria. Not true. The method of cooking—microwave vs. oven—is less important than the internal temperature reached during cooking. No matter where or how you reheat your leftovers, be sure the food reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F. That will ensure any bacteria that might have developed since the food was first prepared are killed.

Myth: Whether you develop food poisoning or not is just a matter of luck.

With all the news about food recalls and food poisoning outbreaks, it may seem like danger is everywhere, and your risk for food poisoning has as much to with which bag of spinach you happen to select as anything else. While it's true that food can become tainted during growing, harvesting and processing, the majority of food poisoning cases occur closer to home. Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to minimize the risk for foodborne illness in your kitchen. To help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning, lose the fear, forget the myths and remember the basics: chill, separate, clean, cook.

Remember, these steps can help to prevent illness from bacteria, but sometimes we don't always follow the best steps to safety. Should food poisoning occur and you need to be seen by a doctor, where you go matters! Make sure to do your research about ERs versus urgent care now, and know when it's time to be seen in case of emergency. 

Happy grilling!

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