The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) urges everyone to be food safe as they cook out this Fourth of July to keep the celebration free from illness-causing bacteria. 

“We often worry about firework safety – and that’s important,” says Jewel Bronaugh, VDACS Commissioner, “but it is just as important to follow key food safety recommendations, especially when cooking outdoors.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of Americans suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. But those who integrate key food safety steps into their cookout plans can provide everyone with a great AND safe time this Fourth of July.

The easiest way to stop the spread of bacteria around the kitchen is by washing your hands. Before starting food preparation, make sure you wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Dry them with a clean towel or disposable paper towel. Also wash your hands immediately after handling meats and poultry. This is the best way to avoid cross-contamination of other foods, spice containers or…

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