TEXAS (CBS) — It’s the time of year for cookouts and barbecues.
But the summer months may bring more than warm weather if you aren’t careful.
“Because of hot, humid temperatures and because folks are often away from the kitchen at picnics and cookouts, food-borne illness may actually increase,” said USDA’s Chris Bernstein.
Harmful bacteria can actually multiply more quickly when it’s hot outside.
Whether you’re grilling in the backyard, or barbecuing in a professional smoker, experts say a food thermometer is the best way to make sure everything is cooked thoroughly. Yet only a third of Americans use one.
“165 is usually a preferred temperature that you’re going to want to get there” says George Moore a pit master at a Dallas area smokehouse.
Moore says, “you want to stick it in the fattest part of the meat which is going to be where you can get the most accurate reading of your internal temperature.”
“You actually can’t tell by looking at it if it’s reached a safe internal temperature, and that magic number is really the only way to be sure that you’ve killed any bacteria that might be present,” said Bernstein.
The USDA also reminds that anything perishable should usually not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours, but in temperatures over 90 degrees nothing should be left out for longer than an hour.
Also, don’t rely on the sniff test to check if something is good, because experts say odor alone is not a reliable indicator if a food will make you sick.
Foodborne illness like salmonella and E-coli is caused by bacteria that does not have any smell to it.