Beware of food poisoning

By Web Producer
By NBC News

Beware of food poisoning

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It may be the last thing you're anticipating during the Fourth of July festivities, but the United States Department of Agriculture is warning consumers to be cautious when cooking.

Food poisoning cases spike during the summer, as people cook out on the grill and the hot weather makes it easy for food to spoil quickly.

Experts at the USDA have provided tips to help people enjoy the Fourth, without the illness:

* When grilling out, experts say make sure to bring hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to keep your hands and cooking utensils clean. Also, use separate plates for uncooked and cooked meat. 

* Use a meat thermometer to make sure burgers are cooked to 160 degrees.  Poultry should be 165 degrees. 

* Finally, experts say food should not be left outside for more than an hour.  Store leftovers in a cooler, ideally one that is kept at 40 degrees and won't be opened frequently. 

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