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Wash your hands, people

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The CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly before cooking or grilling.
The CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly before cooking or grilling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It might not seem like it, but it's almost summer. And summer means grilling season. Cooking outside the kitchen is a great way to commune with nature, but it's also a great way to give your dinner guests salmonella. There are some simple rules to follow when it comes to food preparation and storage. 

MPR News host Angela Davis spoke with three guests about how to keep food safe during, and long after, grilling season. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) breaks down food-safety measures into four areas: Clean, separate, cook and chill. 

Clean:

Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before cooking. Wash all surfaces and utensils with warm soapy water and be sure to rinse all fruits and vegetables. 

Separate:

Don't cross-contaminate raw food with prepared or ready-to-eat foods. Don't use the same plates for raw meat and cooked meat. Don't store raw meat on top of prepared or ready-to-eat foods.

Cook:

Cook foods to the appropriate temperature to kill bacteria. Use an instant-read thermometer. 

Whole cuts of meat, including beef, pork, veal and lamb, should be heated to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Then the meat should rest for three minutes. Ground meats (pork and beef) should reach a temperature of 160 F. Poultry (chicken and turkey, ground or not) should reach 165 F. Any leftover food should be heated to 165 F. Raw ham should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 F, as should fish. 

Chill:

Foods should be stored at 40 degrees F, so keep the refrigerator below that temperature. Divide food into small portions when storing. Thaw frozen food in the fridge, in cold water or a microwave — never on the counter. 

For picnics or outdoor meals, keep foods in a cooler before preparing or serving. 

Follow the two-hour rule: Throw out food that's been at room temperature for more than two hours. If the air temperature is 90 degrees F or hotter, throw out food after an hour. 

 Guests:

Dr. Pritish Tosh is an infectious disease researcher at Mayo Clinic and formerly of the CDC. 

Kim Carlton works in the Minnesota Department of Health as an environmental health supervisor.

Craig Hedberg is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.