Keep food safe during holiday weekend

In wake of recent E. coli illnesses and the ground beef recall by Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson urges residents to practice food safety this Memorial Day Weekend and all summer long. Whether at a picnic, outdoor event or grilling at home, the following tips from the county’s Health Division on preparing, storing and cooking food will help protect individuals from foodborne illnesses.

Cook meats to a safe internal temperature – Use a meat thermometer to make sure the food reaches a safe internal temperature:

  • 145°F–Steaks & roasts (beef, pork, veal & lamb) with a 3-minute rest time
  • 160°F–Ground meat, including beef, pork, veal & lamb
  • 165°F–Ground turkey & ground chicken
  • 165°F–Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, goose & stuffing)

Wash the meat thermometer in hot, soapy water after each use.

Cooking frozen, manufactured formed/shaped hamburger patties is safest. This reduces any risk of bacteria due to improper thawing and minimizes the amount of contact with fresh or thawed food.

Always marinate meat and other food in the refrigerator.

Defrost or store fresh food in cold temperatures – Keeping food cool slows the growth of harmful bacteria:

  • Defrost food in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold water. Never defrost food at room temperature.
  • Cook food immediately after defrosting in cold water or in the microwave.
  • Keep fresh or defrosted meat at 40° F or lower. A higher temperature could increase the amount of bacteria in the food and cause illness.

Separate cooking, food prep, and serving areas – Cross-contamination is one way to spread bacteria:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
  • Wash your hands every time you come into contact with raw meat.
  • Wash cutting boards, knives, or other equipment that was in contact with raw meat or poultry in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher before using with other foods.

Store foods at safe temperatures – Plan ahead if you will be going to a picnic or barbeque:

  • Keep cold foods cold, 40° F or below.
  • Keep hot foods hot, 140° F or above.
  • Do not partially cook meats, and then continue cooking later.
  • Transport foods in a cooler with ice packs. If possible, transport raw meat, poultry or seafood in a separate cooler to avoid cross contamination.
  • When outside, keep the cooler out of the sun. Avoid opening it too often so that it can stay as cool as possible inside.

Handling fruits and vegetables:

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before you cut and prepare them. Bacteria can grow on the outside of these foods and are pushed into the foods by the knife if not cleaned properly.
  • Store in an airtight container, such as a bowl with a lid or a plastic zip lock bag.

Perishable food should never be left out longer than two hours (one hour if the air temperature is over 90° F) unless the food is kept hot or cold. Be sure the cooler is packed full of ice and/or freezer packs. Food should be surrounded by ice.

On May 19th, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157. The recalled products were shipped to restaurant distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. There was no distribution of the products to the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales.

Five confirmed Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157 illnesses have been reported in Michigan in adults between 20-41 years of age with symptom onset dates from April 22 – May 1, and three individuals have been hospitalized. None of the ill individuals have developed severe complications, and no deaths have been reported. There is one confirmed case in Oakland County.

Find more information by visiting or find Public Health Oakland on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.

All information and statistics were provided by the Oakland County Health Division.

About Sarah Hovis

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