Every summer, you fire up the backyard barbecue and slap on that all-American favorite - the burger. It's no picnic, though, if you end up with an undercooked hamburger. Ground beef is a happy hunting ground for the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria, a leading cause of food poisoning. Hotdogs don't carry the same high risk for E. coli because they are usually cured and vacuum-packed.
Make sure your cookout doesn't turn into a medical calamity. Follow the guidelines for safe grilling.
Safety starts at the grocery store.
-Before you go shopping, put a cooler containing an ice pack in your car.
-Wait till just before checking out to pick up your ground beef.
-Select your meat from the back of the refrigerated case and from the bottom of the stack, where the temperature is lowest.
-If the package is wet or sticky or the date has expired, don't buy it.
-Put your package of beef into a plastic bag, and close it with a twist-tie.
-At checkout, make sure the beef is bagged separately from your other groceries.
-Put the bag of beef into the cooler in your car. Drive straight home.
-Put the meat in the refrigerator as soon as you get home.
Let's get cooking
Before the day of your cookout, make sure you have a food thermometer. Research shows that 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown during cooking before it is safe enough to eat. Using a thermometer is the only way to be sure that meat is cooked properly.
The other hard and fast rule for safe grilling is to wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces every step of the way with soap and water. That means before and after raw or partially cooked meat has touched a spatula, plate, finger, counter, or food thermometer.
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