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Declare Your Independence from Foodborne Illness

A hot dog in a bun with mustard and ketchup.

This Fourth of July, join the revolution against foodborne illness. Summer's rising temperatures make picnics a playground for bacteria as families prepare, cook, and eat food outside. Here are some tips to keep you safe:

Pledge Allegiance to Cleanliness

Wash your hands before and after you handle food:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel.

Don't have access to a faucet? Carry bottled water, soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer or disposable moist towelettes that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

Use Red, White and Blue Cutting Boards

Avoid cross contamination by using separate, different colored cutting boards — one for fresh fruits and vegetables, one for cheeses, and another for raw meats.

Spark Up that Grill

If you're grilling at your picnic, remember to cook raw meat and poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature: ground meats at 160 F, whole cuts of meat at 145 F with a three-minute rest time, poultry at 165 F, and fish at 145 F. Use a food thermometer to measure temperature.

Land of the Free-zer

Pack coolers with bags of ice, gel packs or even frozen water bottles to store your food. Use an appliance thermometer in your cooler to monitor that your food stays chilled at 40 F or below.

Have questions?

Talk to a food safety expert and get answers to your questions about food safety.

  • For non-meat food products (cereals, fish, produce, fruit juice, pastas, cheeses, etc.), call the FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).
  • For meat, poultry and egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).