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Monterey County Health Department encourages food safety during this holiday weekend

Always think food safety.

Post Date:05/20/2020

Clean Separate Cook ChillPicnics and barbecues offer lots of opportunities for outdoor fun even if it will be different this year only hanging out with the people you live with. You can still have fun but cooking outside can present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. 

To keep your household from getting sick, the Monterey County Health Department suggests washing hands and food-contact surfaces often and cooking food to a safe internal temperature whenever you prepare foods to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses.  

Follow these simple rules for a safe Memorial Day for all:


  • Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice to get a sense of how long you should wash.


  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  • Hamburgers and ground meats should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.


  • When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first.
  • Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods.



  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  • In hot weather (above 90°F) foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature.
  • Keep the cooler out of the direct sun.


Additional resources for consumers are available at the following website:

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