WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJON News) - If you’re planning to expand your grilling skills over the long weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat and poultry line is ready for your questions.

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Meredith Carothers, food safety expert with USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline, says a simple meat thermometer can help avoid disaster at your next cookout.

A whole cut of beef, pork, lamb, veal, things like steaks (need to be) cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, any fish also 145. Ground beef, veal, lamb and pork, cook those to 160. Any poultry, chicken, turkey, ducks, whether it's whole or ground, you want to cook those to 165. If you're doing a beef burger 160, but if you're doing a turkey burger 165.

Carothers says cooking meats fully to kill any food-borne bacteria is essential to avoiding food poisoning, but bacteria can live a very long time on your hands and other surfaces.

Certain bacteria can live on surfaces for like 72 hours. Think about it. You're making dinner -  you touch chicken (then) touched your spice containers without washing your hands. And then in the morning, you're cooking eggs and you want to use the same spice in your eggs. Then that gets all touched other places. So yeah, it's just crazy what your hands can move around.

The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline is ready for questions via phone, live chat, or email.

The phone number: 888-674-6854

For the website, click here.

The hotline is staffed Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.



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