The air is warmer, the sun is shining, and cookouts are quickly approaching. Did you know that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year.  So, don’t commit these party fouls with these common food safety mistakes this summer.  Keep the party in the yard and not running to the restroom!

Mistake 1: Washing your meat before cooking.

Wash your hands, not meat or poultry. Washing meat or poultry can spread germs to countertops and other items in your kitchen like fruit, which can make you ill. Washing your hands not only keeps you safe but protects your guests as well.

A study found that “only 5 percent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.” Grab that soap and be sure to wash your hands before you start preparing foods for at least 20 seconds under running water.

Fun Fact! Washing your hands is a great opportunity to perfect your rendition of “happy birthday” (sing the song twice while washing your hands).

Mistake 2: Defrosting the meat on the counter.

Unfortunately, defrosting meat on the counter is not safe. Thawing meat at room temperature is the perfect opportunity for germs to grow and potentially make you and your guests sick. Thaw meat in the refrigerator or in the microwave.

Mistake 3:  Using the “smell test” to check if leftovers are safe.

Unfortunately, smelling food is not a safe way to indicate if a food is safe to eat. Check the shelf life of your favorite foods and other food items in your refrigerator to ensure freshness and safety. Check out Foodkeeper app to review the recommended shelf life and storage tips of products in your refrigerator. For example, deli meat should be used with 3-5 days after opening.

For more information on protecting yourself and others from foodborne illnesses, check out these helpful tips.

Written by BWS Dietitian-Melissa Morningstar Vajas RD, LD