AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Fourth of July celebrations across the county always centers on close friends, family and great food, usually from the barbeque.
However, without the correct preparation, the food you eat this weekend could contain a food borne illness.
"Don't cross contaminate. Make sure you wash your hands, wash your dishes. If you take food out to the grill, that is raw meat, make sure to wash the plate before you put the food back on it so you don't cross contaminate," explains Director of Food Systems Institute, Pat Curtis.
Food borne illnesses, like salmonella, peak in the summertime due to warmer temperatures.
There are several ways to reduce the risk, starting with clean surfaces, keeping raw meats separate from vegetables, and adequate heating of raw products using a thermometer.
"If you leave it out for more than two hours you probably want to trash it. You don't want to save it for leftovers. Same thing for keeping it hot, you want to keep your foods above 140 degrees so cook your food thoroughly," says Curtis.
After your food it prepared correctly and it is time for the grill, make sure you handle cooking duties with care.
Check for gas leaks in your gas grills and make sure your grill is at least ten feet off the wall, where there is no overhang or vegetation that could catch on fire.
"Being observant of your surroundings, again, making sure you don't have children running around the grill. We don't want any kids or adults being burned by the grill," explains City of Auburn Battalion Chief, Josh Datnoff.
When the food is cooked and the grilling is done, make sure your coals are cool before properly disposing them.
"We've had fires start that way, so make sure your coals are completely out before you discharge them in a trash can or in the woods," says Datnoff.