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Reminders about food safety in warm weather along Memorial Day weekend

Health officials give reminders about food safety in warm weather ahead of Memorial Day
Health officials give reminders about food safety in warm weather ahead of Memorial Day 02:25

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's the unofficial start of summer and many are looking forward to fun and food outdoors this Memorial Day weekend. Federal health officials are reminding everyone about food safety in warm weather.

Food safety in the heat is all about temperature control.

The Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer season for eating outside with picnics and cookouts. But health experts are sending out the reminder that hot and humid weather creates the right environment for foodborne illness.

It's important to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

"We want to avoid what we refer to as the danger zone. So that temperature range between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit because that's the range at which potentially harmful bacteria can rapidly multiply," said Karen Hunter, Chief of Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service at USDA.

Hunter said it's easy to forget food safety in the summer because we often prepare and eat food away from home.

"Pack your food in a cooler with multiple cold sources, pack your raw food such as your meat and poultry products separately from your ready-to-eat foods," Hunter said. "Bring that food thermometer with you so that you can check to be sure that you're cooking those foods to a safe temperature."

Hunter said to make sure hands and surfaces are clean before and after preparing food.

Once the meal is done, get everything back in the fridge. Don't leave food out for longer than two hours, one hour if it's over 90 degrees outside.

The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses every year.

"Those people who are immunocompromised, people who are elderly and children," Hunter said. "Foodborne illness affects them significantly more so and can lead to some long-term complications."

Food safety precautions will help keep everyone safe this summer.

Doctors said coolers, lots of ice, and thermal bags can help keep food safe outside.

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