As millions of Americans prepare to grill Memorial Day weekend, the USDA wants families to make sure they don't invite bacteria to the barbecue.
"We want Americans to know that simple food safety steps can make cookouts and picnics worry-free for hosts," says the USDA's Dr. Elisabeth Hagen.
Those four simple steps include: Cleaning, Separating, Cooking, and Chilling.
First, make sure you start with clean surfaces and clean hands. Hands should be washed before and after you come in contact with raw food.
Second, prepare your raw meat and poultry separately from vegetables and any other cooked food. You also want to use separate cutting boards.
Third, make sure it's really cooked. Bring a food thermometer along. Pork, lamb, veal, and whole cuts of beef should be cooked to 145 °F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat. Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160 °F.
As you take the cooked meats off the grill, be sure to place them on a clean platter, not on the dish that held them when they were raw.
Finally, keep food at a safe, chill temperature. Perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature is over 90 °F food shouldn't sit out more than one hour.