Food has been proven to play an important role in the development, management and prevention of certain mental illnesses. [Representational image]bruce mars from Pexels

The Fourth of July is a good day to meet your friends and family for a barbecue party or a cookout. But, nothing ruins a Fourth of July cookout like food poisoning.

According to CDC, each year 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalised, and 5,000 die as a result of foodborne illnesses.

You know that a salad sitting out all day in the sun is not good to eat, but what about that meat burger or a hot dog left on the barbecue grill for a few hours?

Nope, not a good option either!

Food experts say how it is very easy to ruin a cookout. So, follow these simple measures and enjoy your Fourth of July weekend.

Wash your hands - that's important!

More than 70 percent of foodborne infections are due to improper hand washing. Make sure you wash your hands with soap before you cook or handle any food items to avoid contamination. Especially if you touch any raw meat, poultry or eggs, washing your hands before touching food is very important. Bacteria like E coli, listeria, salmonella spread easily from raw meat.

It is very common to forget to wash your hands before eating especially when you are at a party. Be doubly sure to head into the house and wash your hands for a good 20 seconds with soap.

Wash and store your food - that's important too!

Planning to make an awesome salad with potatoes for your guests? Want to keep your veggies cut and ready to cook for an evening party? Keep all the produce properly cut and refrigerated right away. Keeping it out for many hours after cutting is not safe. Fruits, berries, and melons should be thrown away if kept out after cutting for more than two hours.

Always wash your vegetables in running water before cooking. Do not use any harsh detergents or soap to wash veggies. Scrub firmly with a clean washing brush, throw away any damaged veggies before cutting.

Bruised fruits are the breeding ground for bacteria. If you are pregnant you need to be extra careful before eating any raw salad and sprouts. So, proper washing and storing your produce won't hurt.

No-fuss tips to stay healthy
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Make sure to keep your food hot

If you are thinking of burger or hot dogs on the menu, make sure you keep them hot and maintain the right temperature. According to USDA, bacteria can grow rapidly in temperatures between 40F and 140F and double up in twenty minutes.

Don't let your guests make a face when they find the food is not very hot. If you are planning to use the leftovers - reheat them properly, especially if it is steak, meat, or burgers.

Bacteria love cold food too. Reheating insufficiently or cooled too slowly will end up in foodborne illness.

A thermometer will come handy

Using a meat thermometer while cooking is very essential to measure the temperature and check if they are cooked through. Undercooked food is one of the reasons for food poisoning. When you are cooking meat, seafood, or poultry, it should be cooked to the recommended internal temperature. Make sure the food that you eat in the cookout party is cooked through and say no to undercooked meat.

Just colour and texture of the meat is not enough to say if it is cooked well through or not. A thermometer is an accurate way to say if you have reached the safe internal temperature. Always stick to CDC recommended cooking temperature to avoid any bacterial contamination.

Well, when you adhere to some rules before partying, you can keep the foodborne illness at bay!