Don't Let Your 4th of July Cookout Make You Sick

Cases of food-related illness increase during the summer months, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Don't let food poisoning spoil your holiday festivities, warns the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cases of foodborne illness surge in the summer months because bacteria multiply faster in warm temperatures, according to the federal agency.

On June 25, USDA released an infographic on "four steps to food safety":

  • Clean: When preparing party foods, wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate: Use separate plates for raw and cooked foods when grilling.
  • Cook: Cook foods to the proper temperature using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Don't leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.

Food poisoning can be very serious. In 1997, two women died-including one from Baltimore-and more than 600 were sickened by food poisoning after a church picnic in Chaptico, MD. 

Last April, Minnesota Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks was hospitalized with food poisoning after participating in opening day ceremonies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Common signs and symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, head or muscle aches, and fever, according to experts at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Infants and the elderly at most at risk from food poisoning, according to UM doctors. Others at risk include people who:

  • Have an existing medical condition, such as chronic kidney failure, liver disease, or diabetes
  • Take antibiotic, antihistamine, or steroid medicines
  • Have sickle cell anemia or other problems with red blood cells
  • Are pregnant or have a weakened immune system

The best way to avoid food poisoning is to keep perishable food chilled and thoroughly cook meats, according to the USDA.

New research done by the Food and Drug Administration in collaboration with USDA found that only 23 percent of people who own meat thermometers use them when grilling hamburgers, according to the agency.

For more information, visit FoodSafety.gov.


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