By John Burton
TRENTON – The state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is offering some safety tips for the Fourth of July weekend.
Outdoor food grilling and barbecuing are traditional fun ways to enjoy the summer outdoors but they also present an opportunity for disaster and injury.
DCA officials recommend:
- Thoroughly cleaning all cutting board surfaces that come in contact with raw food and use two cutting boards: one for raw meat chicken and fish and one for vegetables and other foods that will not be cooked.
- Regularly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds in warm soapy water before and after preparing foods.
- Be sure foods are cooked thoroughly by using a thermometer, ensuring hamburgers are cooked to at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature; chicken and stuffed meats to at least 165 degrees; and steaks, pork, fish and whole beef or pork roasts to at least 145 degrees.
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold and refrigerate leftovers immediately, discarding food that has been left out for four or more hours.
- When operating gas and charcoal grills always use care. For gas grills, make sure the lid is open or in an upright position; check the gas valve to grill connections and use soapy water to check for leaks; never use any accelerant, such as lighter fluid, to light a gas grill; always make sure the propane gas supply knob and the gas tank itself are completely turned off when not in use; and keep the grill covered when not in use.
- Never use anything other than charcoal briquettes in a charcoal grill; only use approved lighter fluid to ignite the charcoal; keep the grill away from any structure, do not grill in or under any structure and keep children away at all times.
The National Fire Protection Association’s data through 2011 indicates that fire departments around the nation responded to an annual average of 8,600 home fires involving gas or charcoal grills. Those fires were responsible for an annual average of 10 fatalities, 140 injuries and approximately $96 million in property damage. Nearly 82 percent of those fires involved gas grills and 16 percent use charcoal or other solid fuel.
Additional information on fire safety is available by visiting www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/.
For additional food safety information go to www.state.nj.us/health/foodanddrugsafety/.