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Food safety reminders as warm weather continues

As this summer's unbelievably good weather continues on this week, and barbecues are aplenty, the Washington Department of Health has some food safety reminders.

Food poisoning can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including unwashed hands, undercooked meats, cross contamination from raw meats and other germs.

The DOH says the best way to avoid getting sick is to wash hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, especially with raw meats.

When cooking, meats should be marinated in the fridge, not on the counter or outdoors. Clean the grill and preheat barbecue coals until they are lightly coated with ash and thaw frozen meat before grilling so that it cooks evenly. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, which can cause cross contamination.

Fruits, vegetables and salads should be washed before cooking or serving with running water.

When traveling with food, the DOH recommends bringing just the amount of food needed, and taking nonperishable items. Use insulated coolers with lots of ice placed around and on top of food to keep it at 40 degrees or below.

Coolers that are fuller will maintain the cold temperature longer than those that are partially filled. Drinks should also be kept in a separate cooler because the beverage cooler can be opened more frequently without worrying about food getting spoiled.

When it comes to leftovers, the DOH said food should not be left out for more than two hours, especially on a hot day.

To learn more about food safety, visit the DOH website.

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