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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is going to be a lot of meat being put on the grill this Labor Day holiday. But experts say it’s important to remember food safety to prevent foodborne illnesses.

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To begin, always thaw your poultry and meats in the refrigerator or microwave; never leave it out at room temperature. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw food.

Besides the knives, tongs and spatulas, a meat thermometer is essential for food safety. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food safety specialist Marianne Gravely says don’t just eyeball it. “The only way to know it you’ve cooked something thoroughly is to use a heat thermometer, you can’t tell by looking,” she explained.

Food needs to be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Keep in mind, grilled poultry and meat often browns fast on the outside, but may not be done on the inside. According to USDA research, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature.

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To kill the bacteria, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160-degrees, steaks and chops to 145-degrees and poultry needs to reach a temperature of 165.

One you’ve made sure your food is properly cooked put it on a clean plate or in a clean container, never put cooked food in the same dish that held raw meat or poultry.

If grilling outdoors, remember flies and other insects can contaminate your food, so always keep items covered. And regardless of the temperature outside, don’t leave leftovers out for more than an hour.

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