The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and along with the "4th" comes the official start of barbecue season.

Obviously, cooking over an open flame has it's own list of "do's and don'ts", but folks often forget to follow food safety rules when cooking outside.  Here's a quick refresher course on keeping your summer grilling safe to eat.

Fresh is Best. Always refrigerate fresh ground meat and poultry and cook it within 48 hours. Other meats, like steaks, roasts, and pork chops, can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to five days, but make sure to keep the temperature at less than 40 degrees F.

Cool Rules. NEVER leave raw meat, poultry, or any perishable food (mayo anyone) at room temperature for more than two hours.  If the temperature sores to 90F or above, you've only got an hour at most.

Take a Soak. Marinate beef, pork, fish, and poultry 30 minutes before grilling to significantly reduce the formation of “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” (PAH’s) — potential cancer-causing substances formed when meat, poultry and fish are cooked at high temperatures.

Go Low and Slow.  Meat, fish and poultry cooked over high heat (especially above 300F) or in flames can also create “heterocyclic amines” (HCA’s).  The effect of HCA's is still not known, but high doses are linked to cancer in animals, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

Have a great summer of grilling and keep your food safe!