Blog post

Fourth of July grilling tips for food safety

As you prepare for your Fourth of July cookout, keep these important food safety tips from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in mind.
Food safety steps clean, separate, cook and chill with red, white and blue decorations in the background

Fourth of July is here! Summertime comes with many fun activities, but it also comes with a higher risk of foodborne illness. This is especially true if you are living with kidney disease, as you may have a weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to foodborne illness. This holiday weekend, many people will be celebrating outside with delicious food on the grill. As you prepare for your cookout, it is important to keep these food safety tips in mind from American Kidney Fund's (AKF) Kidney Kitchen® collaborator, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):

  1. Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. If there is no running water or safe place to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content instead.
  2. Be sure to also clean and sanitize your cooking area before preparing food.
  3. Avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw meat or poultry away from foods that are ready-to-eat, like vegetables or your famous pasta salad. Use separate plates for taking raw meat to the grill and for pulling cooked meat off the grill.
  4. Use a food thermometer! Measuring the internal temperature of meat with a food thermometer is the only way to know if your food is fully cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. Safe minimum internal temperatures for various foods can be found on the FSIS website.
  5. Make sure to use your food thermometer correctly. For food like burgers and sausages, the thermometer needs to be inserted through the side of food until the probe reaches the center.
  6. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the "Danger Zone," between 40°F and 140°F. If your food has been in the Danger Zone, it increases the likelihood that you will get a foodborne illness from eating it.
  7. Follow the two-hour rule. Do not leave perishable foods unrefrigerated for more than two hours (or one hour if temperatures are above 90°F). Discard any food that has been out longer than this amount of time.

Find more food safety tips for those living with kidney disease on Kidney Kitchen and additional information for handling food safely on the USDA FSIS's website.

If you have additional food safety questions ahead of your cookout, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.


Meredith Carothers, MPH

Meredith Carothers is a food safety expert with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). She works with the Food Safety Education staff and communicates with consumers in the home about the importance of preventing foodborne illness.