WILMINGTON -- Once you've got what you need to plan the perfect Fourth of July barbeque you need to think about proper food preparation to avoid food poisoning on the fourth. Now that you've stocked up on all of your Fourth of July necessities, it's time to get your cook-out rolling. But there are a couple safety tips you should keep in mind before grilling outside. First things first: make sure you wash your hands before handling any food, especially meat. New Hanover County Co-op representative Diane Gatewood said, "It's important too that when you get through handling that meat, wash your hands again. There could be bacteria in the meat and you can carry it from one food to another." Gatewood says handling meats can get messy, especially when it comes to chicken. Gatewood says poultry can harbor bacteria like salmonella and you can spread it if you're not careful. Local griller Michael Cruz said, "You just have to watch the heat. With chicken, you have to make sure it's well-cooked. These things are small, so they'll cook pretty well, pretty fast." When you're ready to get cooking stick by your grill and watch your food. Even if it looks ready, it's not always completely cooked. As for cold foods health experts suggest keeping them wrapped up and in the fridge until you're ready to eat. Condiments like mayonnaise and foods like potato salad can go bad if left out in the heat. Gatewood said, "Foods can harbor bacteria when they're kept in danger zones. There are temperatures that foods need to be kept at. And that's hot foods hot and cold foods cold." To prevent bacteria from spreading over your food even after you've cooked it, make sure you store store-stuff like burgers and chicken in the fridge. It keeps them cool and safe. Until then, happy grilling! Although health experts want you to stay safe over the Fourth of July holiday, they say they hope people will focus on these safe outdoor cooking techniques all year round.
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