There's nothing better than spending a great day with friends and family on the Fourth of July. Participating in all the great community celebrations in and around Sioux Falls is a terrific way to commemorate the 243rd birthday of our country.

No July 4th celebration would be complete without all the traditional foods: burgers, dogs, beans, salads, etc. The last thing on your July 4th agenda should be a fireworks show, not food poisoning. But every year, some people end up becoming violently ill due to improper food preparation and storage.

Believe it or not, around 3,000 people die from foodborne illness every year and 42 times that, end up in the hospital for treatment. Been there, done that. Believe me, when I say, it was no fun and you certainly don't want to be responsible for sending friends or family to the emergency room.

The Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has 3 major ways for you to ensure the food you serve is delicious and safe.

  • Wash your hands! - - This is the easiest thing you can do to stop the spread of illness-causing bacteria. Wash before handling food and afterward, to avoid cross-contamination. Make sure your utensils are clean also.
  • Keep cold food, cold and hot food, hot.
  • Cook foods to safe temperatures:
  1. Beef, pork, lamb & veal (steaks, roasts, and chops) - 145°F with a three-minute rest time
  2. Fish - 145°F
  3. Ground meats (beef, lamb, veal, pork) - 160°F
  4. Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry - 165°F

If you're doing a hot dog or burger toppings bar, keep the items on ice. Perishable foods shouldn't be left outside for longer than 2 hours when it is 90° or below and only 1 hour at 90° and above. All leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours (or less, if it is above 90° outside).

For more food safety information, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 from 9 AM to 5 PM CST.