By: Alissa Murphy, MS, RDN

As the summer season is approaching, people start moving their meals outdoors and celebrating with barbeques and potlucks. However, warm weather can increase the risk of foodborne illness, so special precautions need to be taken to keep your food safe. We've partnered with Raritan Bay Medical Center to provide you five tips based on United States Department of Agriculture recommendations to keep your food safe and your guests healthy:

1. Wash your Hands! Before you start preparing foods for your guests make sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap to rid them of bacteria.

2. Don’t Cross-Contaminate! Use separate plates and utensils for raw meats and cooked meats. Also keep ready-to-eat foods separate from raw or uncooked foods.

3. Cook Foods Correctly! To ensure that food is cooked properly bring a food thermometer and make sure the proper temperature recommended by the USDA is reached: 145°F (and allow to rest for 3 min): Pork chops, ribs and roasts, beef, lamb, veal steaks and roasts 145°F: Fish 160°F: Ground beef, pork, veal, lamb and egg dishes 165°F: All poultry, stuffing and casseroles and any leftovers

4. Keep Foods Cool! Bring coolers and ice to outdoor events to help keep perishable items below 40°F until they are cooked or eaten. If the temperature is sitting in the sun for a prolonged period of time and could enter the temperature danger zone (40°F -135°F). If you have any doubts about food, throw it out!

5. Watch the Clock! Food left out of refrigeration for more than two hours should be thrown out, and if it’s an especially hot day above 90°F, food should be thrown out after one hour.

Thanks to Rairtan Bay Medical Center for those 5 tips to prevent foodborne illness. To learn more about Raritan Bay Medical Center and their services, you can go to their website, http://www.rbmc.org/

Alissa Murphy is a clinical dietician from the Institute for Weight Loss and Food and Nutrition Department at Raritan Bay Medical Center, with locations in Old Bridge and Perth Amboy, NJ.