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Health department offers food safety tips

WOODSTOCK – Party planning for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday should include more than a menu and invited guests.

The McHenry County Department of Health wants residents to practice safe food handling by keeping “hot things hot (above 135 degrees) and cold things cold (less than 41 degrees)” to reduce the risk of a food-borne illness.

Other safety tips include:

• Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator.

• Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and after handling foods.

• Clean all kitchen surfaces before preparing food.

• To avoid cross-contamination, use separate plates for raw and cooked meats.

• Scrub cutting boards with hot, soapy water after preparing food.

• Use a metal-stemmed food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the proper temperature. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

• Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving time.

If a food-borne illness is suspected, contact the health department at 815-334-4585, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, call 815-344-7421.

For more food safety tips, visit

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