4 Barbecue Safety Tips from the USDA

4 Barbecue Safety Tips from the USDA

by Katie Waldeck

Independence Day is just around the corner. And, if you’re like millions of  Americans, you’ll spend your day grilling up some tasty foods with friends and  family. It’s certainly a fun time, but it’s also important to recognize the  possible dangers that exist in outdoor barbecues. Indeed, food safety is even  more important in the summer, when hot temperatures foster an ideal environment  for bacteria to grow at a faster rate.

Luckily, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has you covered,  with their helpful guide to preventing foodborne illnesses this 4th of July  holiday. Click through to check out their 4 basic tips for safer  grilling. For even more information on food safety, you can download the  USDA’s Ask Karen mobile phone app or check out the web version. You can also call the USDA hotline at  1-888-MPHotline.

1. Keep It Clean

Just because you’re cooking outdoors doesn’t mean you have to forgo the  cleaning you would do inside the house. If you don’t have access to clean water  during your barbecue, you can either bring some with you or use moist towelettes  and clean cloths to keep surfaces and utensils clean. Keep your hands clean  with hand sanitizer.

2. Keep Everything Separate

Have plenty of clean plates, utensils and platters on hand. Don’t ever reuse  platters or cutting boards that have been exposed to raw meat and poultry — if  there’s harmful bacteria present, it can contaminate even safely-cooked  food.

3. Make Sure Food is Cooked  Thoroughly

Meat and poultry can look perfectly done and safe to eat from the outside,  when, internally, that’s not the case.  Use a food thermometer to make  sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature. The USDA suggests the following internal temperatures:

  • Whole poultry: 165 °F
  • Poultry breasts: 165 °F
  • Ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to  rest at least 3 minutes.

You’ll also want to make sure that your hot food stays hot. Someone not ready  for that burger? Well, you can keep it hot by placing them on the side of the  grill and away from the coals.

4. Keep Food Chilled

Packing food into a cooler is the last thing you should do before leaving  your home for a barbecue. Have a thermometer in your cooler, and make sure  the temperature is always below 40°F. If you can, try to use one cooler for food  and one cooler for drinks. That way, you’ll be able to open up your drink cooler  as often as you like without exposing the food to warmer temperatures.

If it’s hot outside, make sure to keep your food in the cooler. Keep your  food out of the cooler for an hour at most. If you’re not sure how long a food  item has been sitting out in the sun, don’t take the risk. As the USDA says,  “when in doubt, throw it out!”

 

Solar fireworks might be heading our way for the 4th

Solar fireworks might be heading our way for the 4th

 

A solar flare disrupts radio communication in Europe and is expected to light up the sky in the coming days. Msnbc.com’s Richard Lui reports.

By Alan Boyle

The sun sent out a flare powerful enough to disrupt radio communications over Europe today, along with an eruption of electrically charged particles that just might sweep past Earth’s magnetic field in time to spark a Fourth of July show of auroral fireworks.

The M5.6-class solar flare, observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory at 6:52 a.m. ET (10:52 GMT), was almost powerful enough to cross over from the medium M-class category to an extreme X-class event, SpaceWeather.com’s Tony Phillips noted. “A pulse of X-rays and UV radiation from the flare illuminated Earth’s upper atmosphere, producing waves of ionization over Europe,” he wrote.

Such waves can spark bursts of radio static, as recorded by Rob Stammes in Norway and noted by the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center. “Radio blackout storms have been observed in the past 24 hours,” the center reported on its Facebook page.

SpaceWeather.com says the solar eruption threw out a coronal mass ejection, or CME — not directly toward Earth, but in a southerly celestial direction. In the video above, you can see the solar material blurping downward and outward from a monster sunspot region known as AR 1515.

Phillips writes that the “south-traveling cloud could deliver a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetosphere on July 4th or 5th.” However, the Space Weather Prediction Center says the CME “is not expected to disturb the field during the forecast period.”

The sun is in the midst of an upswing in its 11-year activity cycle, heading toward an expected maximum in 2013. Right now there are five sunspot regions on the sun’s Earth-facing side, and two of them — 1513 and 1515 — are considered capable of sending out M-class flares. Such flares are generally associated with moderate disruption of radio communication and navigation systems. As for today’s CME, the most likely effect will be heightened displays of the northern and southern lights.

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CME or not, it looks as if it’s a good week for auroras, judging from the pictures being sent in to SpaceWeather.com’s real-time image gallery. The prime time for auroras generally begins at just about the time of night that the fireworks shows are finishing up. And there’s more to see besides the fireworks: This happens to be a great week for seeing the full moon and Mars in sunset skies, or seeing Jupiter and Venus just before dawn. Sky and Telescope has the week’s rundown.

So if you’re out and about on the night of the Fourth, sit back and enjoy the fireworks — whether they’re terrestrial or celestial in origin. And if you happen to snap a great picture of the northern or southern lights, please share it with us via our FirstPerson photo upload page. If we get some good ones, we’ll pass ’em along after the Fourth.

 

To read entire article and view film, visit here.