FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Food poisoning can be common when barbecuing outdoors under blazing temperatures and experts remind those planning to head outdoors for the holiday weekend to handle food with care.
The Palmetto Poison Center says to never leave food outside for more than one hour when temperatures reach upwards of 80 degrees. Harmful bacteria and toxins grow at these temperatures and can cause food-borne illness, even if the food is already cooked.
"Food poisoning is something that you see every year this time of year [..] because people get negligent," Palmetto Poison Center Education Coordinator Christina DeRienzo said. "They're having a good time and they don't really follow that hour long rule."
The Department of Health and Environmental control suggests cooking raw meat within 30 to 45 minutes of taking it outside and to use a thermometer to ensure it is thoroughly cooked. Poultry is sufficiently cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Beef should reach 155 degrees and fish should reach 145 degrees.
Food experts say to keep raw foods well chilled until they are ready to be cooked, from the time it leaves the store to the time it is cooked. They say to make sure to change the ice as needed in coolers used to chill meat outdoors. As a rule of thumb, DeRienzo says to use separate coolers for drinks and raw meat.
Cross contamination is a common cause of food poisoning when handling uncooked meat. Juices from raw meats may contain harmful bacteria that can cross-contaminate cooked foods.
"The common rule is one container for each type of item you're preparing," DeRienzo said.
Which is also applies to serving dishes and utensils used to handle raw and cooked meats.
As an extra precaution, DeRienzo says to check the expiration dates of food packages before cooking, and to be aware of food recalls.
Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever lasting more than 24 hours. Beyond 24 hours, food experts suggest seeking medical attention.