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How To Host A Safe Summer Cookout

With Memorial Day behind us, summer has officially started - time for picnics, cookouts and lots of grilling. Before you fire up your grill or head to a picnic or cookout, make sure you check out these safety tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center:

Handle with care. Read the Food Safety at Home publication from the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health for tips on preparing dishes to avoid food-borne illnesses and prevent spoiling. For example, if you're cooking with several kinds of raw food, keep meat, poultry and seafood to themselves so their juices don't contaminate other food.

On the go. When packing for a picnic, consider using multiple coolers - one for drinks and other items that you need to get frequently and another for food that needs to stay cold until it's time to cook and eat. Food needs to be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep bacteria from growing, so don't skimp on ice.

Get your grill ready. Whether you use a charcoal or gas grill will determine what you need to check before firing it up. The biggest danger from gas grills is the possibility of a fire or explosion. Check connecting tubes for blockages or cracks. And if you smell gas, don't light the grill. Charcoal grills release carbon monoxide from the burning coals. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never store a charcoal grill inside with freshly used coals - let the coals completely extinguish first.

Rare, medium or well done? Make sure meats are cooked to a safe temperature - 165 degrees for poultry and 160 degrees for beef - but not too well done. Some studies suggest there's a link between grilled foods and cancer, but the USDA says that eating a moderate amount of grilled food that hasn't been charred is fine. To avoid charring, remove fat from the meat or try pre-cooking it in the microwave before putting it on the grill.

Use these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center to make sure all your summertime grilling is safe and delicious.

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Also from the FCIC: Sunscreens and Tanning.

Many people like to spend time in the sun, but it can also cause harm. The sun can cause skin cancer, sunburn, wrinkles, and skin aging. Too much sun can even harm the body's immune system. You don't need to get a sunburn to have skin damage. Skin damage builds up over your lifetime.

What causes sunburn?
The sun's UV (ultraviolet) rays cause sunburn. The sun gives out two kinds of UV rays: UVA and UVB. You need to protect your skin from both kinds. Look for sunscreens and sunglasses that protect from both UVA and UVB rays.

A sunburn takes 6 to 48 hours to develop. You may not know your skin is burned until it is too late.

What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for "sun protection factor." Sunscreen labels have an SPF number. The higher the number, the better the protection.

What can I do to protect myself?
* Don't stay in the sun for a long time, especially in the middle of the day. The sun's rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in spring and summer.

* Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more.

* Apply more sunscreen every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.

* Use sunscreen even on a cloudy day. Glare from water and snow can expose you to UV.

* Wear clothing that covers your body and a hat with a wide brim to protect your head and face.

* Wear sunglasses that protect from UV. Not all tinted and dark glasses offer UV protection. Check the label before you buy them.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on June 2, 2010


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