JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – As you get ready for pool days, outdoor parties and grill-outs this summer, remember to lower your risk of food-borne illnesses. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is offering tips to avoid food-borne illnesses while enjoying summer activities.

MSDH leaders said by keeping foods chilled at the proper temperature, you can reduce the risk of food-borne illness. It’s especially important to take precautions with perishable foods during the summer. This is because hot weather creates an atmosphere for food-borne bacteria to rapidly multiply.

Don’t forget to keep your food cold while traveling. MSDH leaders recommend the following:

  • Pack your cooler just before you get on the road. Pack meat or poultry while it’s still frozen to keep it colder longer.
  • Pack foods in reverse-use order. Pack foods you’re likely to use last at the bottom of the cooler. Doing this will help you avoid having to unpack and repack the cooler.
  • Make sure to fully pack your cooler with ice. A full cooler will stay colder longer than one that’s partially filled.
  • Keep your drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The drink cooler will be opened more often while the food cooler stays closed.
  • Take perishable foods in the smallest quantity needed. Pack only the amount of food you think you’ll use. Try taking nonperishable foods and snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. On 90°F or higher days, food shouldn’t be out for more than one hour. Once finished eating, throw away all perishable foods that have been out for more than two hours.

Remember to keep clean with these recommendations:

  • Wash your hands, especially when you’re away from home. Take disposable wipes and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Clean utensils when you switch between cooking different foods.
  • Plates, tongs or trays that hold raw meats should be thoroughly cleaned before they touch other foods.

Grilling? Follow these recommendations to avoid food-borne illnesses:

  • Keep marinating foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Keep grilled food hot until serving time by moving it to the side of the grill rack. Don’t let it sit out on a plate or tray.

Remember these safe internal food temperatures:

  • 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal. Allow the meat to cool for three minutes before carving or serving.
  • 145°F – fish
  • 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
  • 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats (hot dogs)

Learn more about food safety here.