Keeping your Fourth of July food safe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Keeping your Fourth of July food safe

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

This Fourth of July week you might be having a picnic or grilling up some classic burgers and hot dogs.  But in this heat, it's easy for your food to spoil, if you're not careful.

Just before noon Tuesday, we popped a tray of cookies into a news car.  In addition to the chocolate chips, we conducted a few other experiments in the "outdoor oven," and got some expert advice on how to keep your Fourth of July food safe.

We didn't have a campfire for our s'mores, so why not make them in the car?  We put them on the roof to bake. For our next outdoor experiment, we laid a stick of butter, an egg, and a hamburger patty on an asphalt parking lot.

And to go with that hamburger, how about some good old fashioned "grandma's potato salad?"  We put it in a cooler with some ice to see how long it would stay fresh.

But if you're doing a more traditional take on holiday cookouts, take steps to safeguard your food.

"One in six Americans get sick with food borne illness during the 4th of July holiday season.  So it's very important to keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold," said Dean Schillinger, Hy-Vee dietitian.

To avoid getting sick, the most important thing to remember is to cook meats to the right temperature.

"You want to make sure the internal temperature is for chick 160 degrees, ground meats are 145, steak and roast are 140," Schillinger said.

If your meat sits outside for two hours without being cooked, it's no good.

As for our food experiment outside in the sun, the potato salad's top layer of ice, melted.  Our s'mores were gooey in less than an hour.  The butter was gone in about three hours, and our egg firmed up in that time.  Our burger was far from done.   And the cookies looked good at first glance, but the inside was still mush! It's proof mother nature's a slow cooker, so sticking to the grill is your best bet this Independence Day!

The Iowa Department of Public Health has a list of holiday food safety tips for you.  You can find them by clicking here.

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