Summer is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor festivals, barbeques and holiday picnics. Unfortunately, food poisoning also peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures allow foodborne germs to thrive.

Before planning your next cookout, check out these four simple steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent food poisoning from affecting you and your family:

Clean — Wash hands and surfaces often.
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before, during and after food preparation and also before eating. Use hot, soapy water to wash all utensils, cutting boards and countertops. When using a grill, clean the surface with a moist cloth or paper towel before cooking.

Separate — Don’t cross-contaminate.
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from other food in the refrigerator. Do not use the same plates and utensils to prepare raw meats and other types of food. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.

Cook — Cook food to the proper temperature.
Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a temperature hot enough to kill harmful germs. The CDC recommends the following safe cooking temperatures:

• All poultry: 165°F
• Ground beef, pork, lamb and veal: 160°F
• Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145°F (let rest three minutes before serving)
• Fish: 145°F

Chill — Refrigerate food promptly.
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers to help food cool faster. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F, and refrigerate perishable food within two hours of cooking (or one hour if it is above 90°F outside). Bacteria can multiply quickly in food that is left at room temperature.

Summer parties are for sharing happy memories and tasty food with friends and family—not foodborne illness. Following these tips will help ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable grilling season!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Basic Food Safety. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/prevention/basic-food-safety.html