There are a few key elements to having a good 4th of July.  First, don’t shoot off your fireworks by hand.  Second, illegal fireworks are fun, but they’re illegal for a reason, so see #1 if you’re planning to light any M 1000’s.  Third, watch the Seattle fireworks from our offices, where you can simultaneously see the shows at the Space Needle, Lake Union, and maybe even Bill’s house (Marler, not Gates, though Gates has been known to put on quite a show too)  Finally, and far more importantly than the size or amount of fireworks you light, grill safely.

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it may be, but you can’t simply do things the way good ole dad used to do them, thinking "well, i never got sick, so none of my family will either."  Famous last words.

Take the advice of the CDC.  These are important steps to prevent the transmission of foodborne disease . . . to you and your family.  But these steps are stated so plainly as to almost, not quite, but almost lack significance when read by the casual consumer.  

Hopefully, digesting a few additional details will encourage even the casual consumer that these CDC steps to preventing foodborne disease this 4th of July are not some empty mantra.  First, consider the size and lethality of the several known STEC serotypes, including the infamous E. coli O157:H7.  "So small that a million would fit on the head of a pin."  And it is estimated that 15 to 100 individual bacteria are enough to kill you.  The point?  Don’t take the issue of cross-contamination (which the CDC strangely addresses with only the example of a plate holding raw hamburgers) lightly.  Have utensils, serving pieces, in fact entire countertops or cutting boards that you use only for raw products; and have another set entirely for cooked products.  Keep in mind that it’s not always bacteria on the inside of the burger that kills.

My only other "detail" before wishing you a safe 4th of July is to consider that good ole dad’s methods for checking "doneness" need to be trashed along with the contaminated celophane wrap that your ground beef came in.  Color (whether its grey or pink) is not always a reliable indicator of doneness, so you should never rely on it.  What does it take, an extra 15 seconds to go get the meat thermometer and check for internal doneness (160 degrees F)?  You’re not doing anything else on the 4th, so you might as well spend it making sure that your kids don’t lose their kidneys.  And along with discarding the notion that color is reliable, the manufacturers instructions on pre-formed beef patties shouldn’t be relied on exclusively either.  Marler Clark sponsored a very important study