NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Memorial Day traditionally involves barbecues and picnics for many New Mexicans. Taking precautions is important when it comes to safe food preparation, avoiding food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each year 48 million Americans get sick from food-borne diseases. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration calculates that about 2%-3% of all food poisoning cases lead to secondary long-term illnesses.

Optum New Mexico’s Dr. Michael Bergeron has a few tips that can help people stay safe during summer cookouts. Bergeron’s says these four steps will help prevent sickness; clean, separate, cook and chill. Make sure to wash hands and utensils that have come in contact with raw meat. Separate anything that touched raw meat during preparation from serving surfaces. Using a meat thermometer is also important to make sure meat is cooked right. Keep things chilled and do not leave meats, salads or other foods out too long or they can develop bacteria.

For more information visit Optum New Mexico