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Celebrate Independence by Supporting Maryland Farmers this July Fourth Holiday; Consumers Reminded to Keep Food Safety Practices in Mind

agdayANNAPOLIS, MD – With Fourth of July picnics and cookouts just a week away, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) suggests citizens celebrate America’s independence by indulging in delicious, locally grown food – from locally produced meat, locally grown produce, and, of course, ice cream from one of the eight dairy farms on Maryland’s Ice Cream Trail. 

“Buying locally grown products this Fourth of July holiday is a great way to show your patriotism and support of Maryland agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Buying locally is a key to ensuring a smart, green and growing future for Maryland families. It preserves farmland, protects the environment, keeps our money in Maryland, and provides fresh, nutritious food for a healthy diet. And it’s delicious.”

To find a local farmer or producer near you to provide fresh meats, cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, ice cream and more for your meals this holiday weekend and every day, visit  For information on Maryland wines, go to and for more on Maryland beer, visit:

Follow Basic Food Safety

In addition to buying locally, MDA reminds consumers to follow basic food safety guidelines to help keep family and friends healthy.

General guidelines

  • Start with the basics – always wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after handling food.
  • Use separate clean utensils, cutting boards and serving dishes for raw and cooked foods, and wash thoroughly with warm, soapy water before re-using. Never serve grilled or cooked food on the same dish that held uncooked eggs, raw meat, poultry or fish.

For fresh produce

  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and eating.
  • Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Wash produce before you peel it so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or veggie.
  • Use a vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  • Dry product with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

Meat thermometer guidelines

  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure food reaches safe internal temperatures. Checking the color of the meat is not enough.  For example, hamburgers should be cooked to 160° F, poultry to 165° F, pork to 160° F and large cuts of beef to 145° F for medium rare, and 160° F for medium.
  • Insert a meat thermometer horizontally into the center of the burger, steak or poultry for 10-15 seconds to register the internal temperature.

Additional food safety guidelines

  • Carry food in a cooler with a cold pack and keep it in the shade with the lid on.  The temperature inside the cooler should be 41°F or less.
  • Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. When outdoor temperatures reach 90° F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If foods are left out for this long in these instances, throw them away.
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

For more information, visit, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry toll-free hotline at 800-535-4555, or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Information Line at 888-SAFE-FOOD.


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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5889


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