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Summer is a great time to fire up the grill. While grilling outdoors is enjoyable for most, it also creates potential roadblocks for the cook. This means the chef must practice extra caution when preparing and serving the food in the outdoors. No matter how great the food tastes, any cook will get a failing grade if their meal sours the eater’s stomach.

"People don’t realize that much of their ailments come from their own poor food hygiene practices at home, and it often takes several days to develop symptoms of food-borne illness," said Alvarado Hospital dietician Christine McClendon. "It is more likely that your undercooked eggs from breakfast made you sick than the dinner you just ate at a restaurant."

Follow these simple tips to avoid food-borne illness:

  • Never reuse marinades from meat. Even if you cook your meat completely on the grill, if you let it touch the marinade, you are simply reintroducing bacteria into your meal.
  • Use a meat thermometer to know your meat is cooked.
  • Wash all produce well. Just because you don’t eat the peel, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be washed. Any time you cut into fruit or veggies, you are bringing the bacteria on the outside of the produce into the edible portion.
  • Refrigerate food quickly. We can often get distracted when we are having a good time outside. Cooled foods need to be at least as cold as your refrigerator temperature.
  • Keep hot foods hot either in the oven or in chafing dishes. This is very important because bacteria love a warm, moist environment.
  • Keep all ready-to-eat foods and raw, uncooked foods separate. This means using separate utensils and platters.
  • Keep in mind that summer is a great environment for bacteria to grow in our food and make us sick. With some common sense approaches to preparing your food, it is far less likely that you will be apologizing to your summer guests for making them ill.