Use a thermometer. Even charred-looking meat can make you sick. According to a USDA study, one in four burgers turn brown before they’re safe to eat. That’s why it’s important to use a food thermometer to ensure steaks, chops and roasts get to 145ºF; ground beef, pork, veal and lamb reach 160ºF; and poultry climbs to 165ºF. “Measure the temperature in several spots, including the thickest part,” advises Chapman.

Heat your cold cuts. Hot dogs and deli meats may harbor listeria, an uncommon but dangerous type of bacteria. Because these infections cause serious illness and even death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people over age 50 and those with compromised immune systems heat cold cuts and hot dogs to 165ºF. So zap them in the microwave or use a meat thermometer on the grill before digging in.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET SICK: In most cases, food poisoning does not need medical attention and will clear up in a few days; in the meantime, it’s important to stay hydrated with plenty of water and sports drinks. “Avoid caffeine, dairy and sugary beverages, which can worsen diarrhea,” says Dr. Danoff.

You should also watch for more serious symptoms. If you have a fever higher than 101ºF, vomited for more than half a day, see blood or mucus in your stool or don’t feel better within four to five days, call your physician. He or she may prescribe an antibiotic or an IV to replace fluids.

Rapid breathing and/or a racing, pounding heartbeat signals that you’re dangerously low in electrolytes; call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.

Even without these serious warning signs, you should call your doctor if you have food poisoning and take immunosuppressant medications – such as corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs. “We may need to take you off or switch medications until you recover,” explains Rodney Tehrani, MD, the rheumatology fellowship director at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.