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With Memorial Day behind us, summer has officially arrived. It's a time filled with friends and family, fireworks, and what seems like the bi-weekly barbeque.  That being said, nothing kills the party like getting sick from a poorly cooked polish.

 While the summer heat provides the perfect environment for friend and family get-togethers, it also opens the doors to many more food-borne illnesses. To help keep your stomach happy and the good times rolling, we've assembled a few helpful tips for cooking in the great outdoors.

1. Isolate the Icebox

When possible, keep your perishable food items isolated in their own cooler and away from your beverages. This is beneficial for two reasons; First, by keeping your meat and poultry separate from the drinks, you eliminate the possibility of direct contact between unwanted bacteria and the uncovered mouthpiece of your soda can; Second, it's crucial that meat and poultry remain cold until cooked. The constant opening and closing of the drink cooler can disrupt these conditions and leave you with less than healthy meat to work with.

2. Marinating Mandate

It's advised when marinating, that you do so in the refrigerator and not on the counter top. Certain recipes may recommend marinating at room temperature, but doing so creates a breeding ground for all sorts of unwanted bacteria. Instead, marinate your meat in the refrigerator for a bit longer than suggested at room temperature. If you're planning on using the marinade as a sauce later, be sure to set some aside before using it with any raw meat; otherwise, you'll need to boil the marinade before further use to eliminate lingering bacteria. Looking for a simple, healthy, and delicious marinade? Try our Fat-Free Honey BBQ Marinade recipe.

3. Time and Temperature

Whatever your meat of choice, it's crucial that you cook it to the correct temperature. Investing in a food thermometer is a great way to make sure you deliver well-cooked meats every time, and becomes especially helpful when keeping steaks on the "pink" end of the spectrum. What are some of your safety secrets?
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