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For immediate release: July 02, 2024
MDARD contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

Fun in the Sun and Food Safety: Take Steps to Prevent a Food Disaster this Independence Day

Lansing, MI—With the 4th of July right around the corner, many Michiganders are preparing to celebrate with picnics and barbecues. However, improper handling of your food can spoil the fun for you and your loved ones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses each year. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) urges Michiganders to practice safe food handling while having fun in the sun during the holiday weekend and beyond. Following these simple tips will keep your outdoor eating fun and safe:

  • Practice good hand hygiene while preparing and handling food: Wash your hands before and after cooking to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Your hands should also be cleansed before eating. This can be done using soap and water, hand sanitizer, or sanitizing hand wipes.
  • Prepare foods the correct way: Always follow the cooking instructions on food labels to ensure your food is safe and tasty. Meats, such as chicken and steak, must be thoroughly cooked to kill any bacteria that may be on them. Use a food thermometer to guarantee they are cooked properly.
  • Keep foods at an appropriate temperature: Food can reach a temperature ‘danger zone’ (between 40°F (4°C) – 140°F (60°C)) where germs begin to grow rapidly. To prevent foods from falling within this range, maintain the proper temperature of a meal after cooking. Using a heat source, like a warming tray ora slow cooker, is a great way to keep your hot meals warm. On the other hand, ice packs and insulated containers are needed to protect cold foods from the summer heat.
  • Don’t forget to store leftovers in a safe manner: Using proper storage methods for leftover food guarantees you’ll be enjoying the barbecue for days to come. Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate promptly to allow quick cooling. Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40°F (4°C) or below and your freezer to 0°F (-18°C) or below by using an appliance thermometer. Food kept too long can grow harmful bacteria. To avoid eating spoiled leftovers, throw out food after a certain amount of time. Know how long you can store specific foods by checking this Safe Storage Times chart.

If you suspect you’ve eaten spoiled food or a contracted foodborne illness, please seek immediate medical attention and contact your local health department as soon as possible for assistance.

Being able to enjoy your 4th of July starts with safe food practices. For more information about food safety, visit