Family Fun Day

Guy Patterson mans the grill at the annual Family Fun Day hosted at Wade’s Way Park by the Oak Grove Community Center. Hot dogs and hamburgers cooked with Louisiana flair were the specialty of the day.

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, Christian County residents should keep safe food practices in mind.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services recently released a food safety guide for Independence Day.

"The Fourth of July holiday offers opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends," the CHFS said in a news release. "However, these warm weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive."

Heatwaves in the summer allow bacteria to multiply rapidly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To protect yourself and your family from foodborne illnesses, safe food handling while eating outdoors is of the utmost importance.

The CDC urges people to pack and transport food safely. You also should be sure to keep cold food cold.

"Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs," the release stated. "Cold food should be stored at 40° F or below to prevent bacterial growth."

Meat, poultry and seafood should be packed while still frozen to stay safe for consumption. Party planners also should consider packaging beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another.

Beverage coolers are constantly opened and closed throughout parties. Keeping perishable foods in a separate cooler lowers the risk of the foods spoiling throughout the day.

Keeping the foods separate also lowers the risk of cross-contamination.

"Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped to keep their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables," the CHFS said.

The CHFS also said proper food safety begins with proper hand cleaning.

"Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean," the release stated. "If you do not have access to running water, use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels."

You also should bring moist towelettes to your party -- for both yourself and your guests.

The best way to ensure food safety at your 4th of July party is to be sure food is cooked thoroughly. According to the CDC, safe internal temperatures include: "145° F for fresh beef, pork, veal and lamb, with a 3 minute rest time; 160° F for hamburgers and ground pork, veal, or lamb; 165° F for poultry; and 145° F for fish."

Grilled food can be kept hot until it is time to serve by moving it to a grill rack that is not over a direct flame.

You also should never reuse platters or utensils. That would allow any bacteria that previously touched the platter or utensil to spread to your food.

With these tips, you can ensure your 4th of July party is safe and fun for the whole family.

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