Don’t get your friends sick! Cookout food safety tips


CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Don’t be the one to get all your friends and family sick this holiday weekend.

Big Y’s Lead Registered Dietician Carrie Taylor told 22News foodborne illnesses are common, but easy to prevent.

“A lot of individuals will have a foodborne illness, never understanding that’s what it is,” Taylor said. “They think it was the 24-hour bug. And if you have the 24-hour bug, that’s usually what it is.”

Your young and elderly guests are most at risk for getting sick.

Taylor recommends following some simple guidelines:

Food Preparation

  • Avoid cross contamination. Do not let other foods touch the same surfaces or utensils.
  • Store marinating or pre-seasoned meat in the refrigerator.
  • Store raw meats on the bottom shelf to avoid any juices dripping on other foods.

Food Safety Outside

Taylor told 22News the temperature outside makes all the difference when it comes to serving food.

“You only have a little window of time once the temperature goes up to 90 and above, or when its really humid—you have one hour where food can stay safe,” Taylor said. “If it was a cooler day, you have a two hour window.”

This Fourth of July, the 22News Storm Team expects highs from 88 to 92 degrees. That means you’ll want to limit your food being out in the heat to one hour. Taylor suggests putting smaller quantities out at a time, and replenishing them when they get low.

She also recommends putting cold foods like salads, pasta salads, and condiments in ice baths.

Grilling safety

The only way to be sure your meat is fully cooked is by using a thermometer:

  • Steak: 145 degrees
  • Hamburger: 160 degrees
  • Poultry: 165 degrees

Taylor said it’s important to switch out utensils and plates during the grilling process– use one set of tongs/spatulas to place the meat on the grill and another to take the meat off the grill.

What to toss, what to keep

At the end of your cookout, Taylor said the best rule of thumb is to throw food away if it has been out more than an hour, or if it has been touched by your guests.

Do you have a cookout planned? Send your 4th of July photos to

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