Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer,
which usually means more and more people are grilling outside.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated some of its cooking guidelines for meat earlier this week to make cooking meat easier and safer for consumers.
Jonathan Falk with the Virginia Department of Health says the nicer weather can also mean more people getting sick from eating undercooked or improperly handled meat.
Falk says, "Some of your more common food born illnesses are salmonella and E.coli, and we tend to see more individual cases reported during the summer months."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually have some scary statistics for this year.
Falk says, "Approximately one in six individuals become ill with some sort of food-borne illness and of those roughly 128,000 become hospitalized and roughly 3,000 die."
Since more grills are firing up throughout the Valley, people need to make sure they are paying attention to cooking meat to the proper temperature.
Richard Dunlap typically grills out in the summer, but like many people, he doesn't exactly use a thermometer to check cooking temperatures.
Dunlap says, "I usually just get it hot enough and check it as I go along, make sure all the colors are looking out right."
While it sounds simple enough, just looking at the center of meat may not actually be safe.
Health officials say visual inspections for food are not recommended.
Falk says many reports of food-borne illnesses actually go unreported and it may actually occur more frequently than statistics show.
He also says to be sure to completely thaw out frozen meat because cooking it before it's completely thawed can also make you very sick.
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