The CDC estimates that 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses or food poisoning occur in the United States every year. Thirty percent of those cases are caused by bacteria from improperly cooked meat and contaminated surfaces or utensils. The seven most common pathogens are E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus and Listeria.
"One mistake people make often is that they don’t take into consideration the length of time food is set out during outside events," said Kim Edmonds, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Henrico County. "Leftovers need to be refrigerated within two hours after the meal."
Another common mistake people make is not cooking meats thoroughly before serving.
"People get distracted with other activities going on, which leads to food not being cooked for the proper amount of time," Edmonds said. "Bacteria are still active in meat that hasn’t been cooked properly."