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Summer food safety

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With summer just around the corner, it's time again to dust of the barbecue and get ready to grill.

However, grilling without proper food safety in mind could lead to a hospital visit. Team V members are reminded to keep food safety in mind when preparing for a cookout or campout this summer.

"With higher temperatures during the summer, and the potential to prepare and cook outdoors people need to be conscious of food spoilage," said Staff Sgt. Maletta Chan, the 30th Medical Group community health's NCO in charge. "Food can go bad very quickly when the temperature outdoors is high, not to mention the insects and other potential contaminants."

Following simple rules can help prevent illness due to outdoor cooking. The four steps: clean, cook, chill and separate can help eliminate food borne illnesses.

"Most importantly, people need to make sure that they cook their food thoroughly and store it properly," said Sergeant Chan.

Individual food items require different internal temperatures to be considered cooked thoroughly, most of the time this information can be found on the item's packaging. Even after cooking the food as specified, food can still become a threat to a person's health.

Cooking food properly isn't the only threat. Cross contamination, either before the food was cooked or after, can spoil a perfectly good meal. Thoroughly washing hands, sanitizing utensils and cutting boards, and keeping cooked food separated from the raw food can help ensure cross contamination doesn't happen, said Sergeant Chan.

Storing leftovers and refrigerating food is an important last step to the process. Keeping food chilled at 41 degrees or lower is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of food borne illness.

For more information, contact public health at 606-0648.