It’s barbecue season and one in four people will get sick from contaminated food this summer, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.

Every year 76 million people suffer from food born illnesses (5,000 of which result in death) which could have been avoided through proper food handling.

“Food can easily become contaminated with bacteria and parasites when handled improperly,” said Albertson’s Nutrition Specialist Micheline Hansen, R.D. “Whether you’re barbecuing or even picnicking at the park, beach or on a boat there are precautions that should be taken to ensure that the food you eat is safe.”

Hansen offers the following food safety guidelines:

Food Handling Tips

  • Always wash hands, utensils and cutting boards before and
    after food preparation. If water is not readily available, bring hand towelettes and liquid hand sanitizer. For cleaning tabletops, pack moistened paper towels in zip lock bags.
  • Don’t use the same platter for both raw and cooked meats, unless it has been thoroughly washed with soap and hot water.
  • Marinate raw meat, poultry and fish in the refrigerator; never let raw meat sit on the counter.
  • Never leave perishables like potato salad unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
  • Serve grilled foods at once. They should never be at room temperature longer than two hours. (One hour if the outside temperature is more than 85 degrees.)
  • Be sure to cook hamburgers to 170 degrees internally —
    “If it’s pink in the middle, it’s cooked too little.”
  • After basting raw meat, be sure to boil the marinade for
    two minutes before reusing.
  • Picnic Packing Guidelines

  • Minimize the worry of storing food leftovers by bringing
    only what will be eaten.
  • Use sturdy insulated coolers with several inches of ice
    and gel packs.
  • Double wrap raw meat and pack separately to prevent cross
    contamination with other foods.
  • Keep the cooler inside the car when traveling, instead of
    the hot trunk.
  • If you don’t have a cooler, take non-perishables like
    peanut butter, veggies, fresh/dried fruits, mixed nuts and canned meats that don’t need to be kept cold.
  • Use a separate cooler for drinks to limit the opening and
    closing of a cooler that contains perishables.
  • Remember that a picnic doesn’t have to be elaborate. It
    can be as easy as bringing already made deli sandwiches, string cheese and apples.
  • To meet your nutritional needs, Albertson’s has nutrition specialists who are registered dietitians and members of the American Dietetic Association. For further questions regarding your health and nutritional needs, contact Micheline Hansen at the Albertson’s hotline (1-888-746-7252) or visit the Web site at www.albertsons.com.