Food Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson urges residents to practice food safety when picnicking and barbecuing this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer. Oakland County Health Division says four easy steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill – will help prevent harmful bacteria from making family members and guests sick.

“We want our residents to have a safe and healthy holiday weekend by remembering food safety tips when preparing, storing, and cooking food to prevent foodborne illness,” Patterson said.

Handling food properly in four easy steps is the key to that safe and healthy holiday.

“Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted,” said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. “That’s why we encourage our residents to follow these four easy steps to help prevent foodborne illness.”

Oakland County Health Tips for Safe Food Handling

Oakland County Health Tips for Safe Food Handling

To prevent the risk of foodborne illnesses:

Clean: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.

• Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

• Wash surfaces that come in contact with food. Use hot, soapy water and rinse with clear water.

• Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water, even those with skin or rind that won’t be eaten.

Separate: Do not cross contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and fish away from ready-to-eat foods.

• Separate raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs from other foods in your grocery cart, grocery bags, and in the refrigerator.

• Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and fish, and another for fresh produce and ready-to-eat foods.

• Never place cooked food on a plate that had raw meat, poultry, or fish on it.

Cook: Foods are safely cooked when they are heated at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

• Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food. When checking meat or poultry, make sure the thermometer does not touch bones or fat.

• Cook roasts and cuts of pork, beef, veal and lamb to 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground meat – including beef, pork, and other meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; egg dishes to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; whole, pieces, ground, or stuffed poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit; and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Keep hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

Chill: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria, the greater the chance of getting sick. Refrigerate foods quickly to keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.

• Foods are no longer safe to eat when they have been in the temperature danger zone of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, or one hour when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Never thaw food at room temperature. The refrigerator is the safest place to thaw food. Make sure meat juices do not drip on other foods. For faster thawing, put food in a strainer under cold, running water (allow sink to drain).

• Refrigerate foods while they are marinating. Do not re-use marinade to baste food while cooking.

• Refrigerate leftover foods right away. Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Keep cold dishes in bowls of ice and replenish the ice as it melts to ensure that cold foods stay at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Otherwise, use smaller serving dishes to exchange with cold dishes of food from the refrigerator at least every two hours.

For specific guidance on more than 400 food/beverage items and safe cooking recommendations, download the USDA’s FoodKeeper mobile app available for free on Android and Apple devices.

For up-to-date public health information, visit and follow the Health Division on Facebook, Twitter @publichealthOC, and Pinterest PublicHealthOC; or Nurse on Call is also available to answer questions at 800-848-5533.




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  1. I love reading articles like this, it gives me peace of mind as I go out and buy food. It’s so important to follow these safety steps to make sure the food is tasty and healthy. The four steps you have here are nice and simple, but effective. Thawing food in room temperature is something I need to work on not doing, thanks for the info!

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