ILLINOIS (WEHT) – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds people to protect others by following proven safety tips to reduce the chance of contracting a foodborne illness.

IDPH says it’s a good idea to keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep foods 40°F or below in an insulated cooler. One tip to help keep your cooler below 40ºF is to pack beverages in one cooler and food in another. The cooler with the beverages will likely be opened more frequently, causing the temperature inside the cooler to fluctuate. You can also keep coolers in the shade and out of the direct sun.

Health officials say to prevent cross-contamination, food should be kept separate. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be stored and prepared separately from fruits, vegetables, cheeses, salads, and even cooked foods. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and grills before and after cooking.

IDPH says before grilling, use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface. If you use a wire bristle brush, inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from the grill cleaning brush may dislodge and stick into food on the grill. Also before grilling, thaw food safely in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Always marinate food in the refrigerator, no matter what kind of marinade you’re using. Never thaw or marinate meat, poultry, or seafood on the counter. Harmful germs can multiple quickly at room temperature.

Health officials say when grilling, make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature by using a food thermometer. Follow these temperature guidelines to ensure grilled food is safe for consumption:

  • 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal, then allow meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating
  • 145°F – fish
  • 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
  • 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs

The press release says after grilling, keep food at 140°F or warmer until served.

IDPH says to throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate when taking cooked food off the grill. After the meal, divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Make sure all leftovers are kept in the freezer, fridge, or on ice within two hours after cooking, or one hour if it is above 90°F outside.

Health officials say to know the symptoms of most types of food poisoning, which include severe cramps, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms can begin from 30 minutes to three or more days after eating contaminated food. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a doctor or health care provider.

IDPH says more food safety tips and information about foodborne illnesses and symptoms can be found on the CDC Food Safety website.