Experts say following a few precautions can keep food poisoning from being an uninvited guest at your summer picnics and cookouts. Food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli sicken about 76 million Americans a year. The great majority of those cases are mild, but about 5,000 people die every year.

“This time of year, the most important thing is to make sure the food is kept in the proper temperature range,” says John Merkle, food program manager for the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

Merkle’s advice is simple:
• Refrigerate leftovers quickly
• Serve foods that need to be kept cold on ice
• Keep hot foods in chafing dishes
• Bring food out in small amounts during an event
• Hamburger should be cooked to 160 degrees, and 170 degrees for chicken breasts
In addition, the “Fight Bac” campaign advises that :
• Cooks should wash their hands, cooking utensils and surfaces in hot, soapy water
• Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods
• Keep raw meat, fish and poultry separate from other foods
• Sauces and marinades used on raw foods should be heated to boiling before they’re applied to cooked foods