A man cooks on a barbecue grill. (credit: Miles Willis/Getty Images)

A man cooks on a barbecue grill. (credit: Miles Willis/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Firing up the grill to cook some summertime eats is a 4th of July tradition for many North Texans. But nothing can spoil a holiday cookout like people getting sick from the food.

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When grilling meat and poultry remember that the food can brown very quickly. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety specialist Kathy Bernard recommends that a thermometer always be used to make to sure meat is fully cooked. When you’re talking about poultry, the internal temperature needs to be 165 degrees.

“If you’ve got a beef or pork steak, roast or chop, you’re gonna want to take it to be 145 [degrees] and allow it to rest at least three minutes before you consume it,” Bernard said.

The rule for cooking your traditional 4th of July ground patty is a little different. “For example, if you’re cooking burgers, ground meats need to be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.”

You should also never use the same unwashed platters and utensils that handled raw meats for handling the cooked meats. Harmful bacteria from the juices of raw meat could contaminate the properly cooked food.

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Just because you’re grilling outdoors or having a picnic, doesn’t mean it’s safe to just leave food sitting out. Perishable food shouldn’t sit out for more than two hours and if it’s above 90-degrees that time is cut in half.

Bernard explained that hot food should be kept hot and cold food should be kept cold. Use a warming try or chafing dish to keep hot food at 140°F or above. Use a cooler or ice to keep cold food at 40°F or below.

Every self-proclaimed BBQ pitmaster should follow the four USDA rules for food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill.

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