This common mistake with ice cream could make you sick

Photo courtesy of NBC TODAY.

After throwing a cookoutcleaning up the kitchen and carefully stacking leftovers in the fridge, it's time for a break — an ice cream break to be exact.

But before the Netflix bingeing and frozen-dessert shoveling begins, there's something very important to know — your beloved ice cream could make you sick.

Consuming the most glorious of frozen summer treats may come with some hidden dangers. There are a few ways that ice cream can make people sick — and we're not just talking about brain freeze — so here's what to know to stay safe this summer.

Resist the urge to refreeze

First of all, ice cream that has melted and then been refrozen can cause food poisoning, according to Amreen Bashir, a lecturer in biomedical sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, England. "This often happens when it is taken from the freezer, left out to thaw and then returned to the freezer before being taken out again to eat later," Bashir wrote in an article for The Conversation.

While that bucket of rocky road ice cream sits out on the counter melting, it's creating a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria, like listeria, which can cause fever, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and cramping in healthy people.

"Ice cream melts fairly rapidly at room temperature and the milky, sugary, liquid concoction is a perfect petri dish for bacteria like listeria, essentially the second time you dig into the tub," Bashir noted.

In a perfect world, everyone would place their pints of ice cream back in the freezer immediately after scooping out a serving (or two). Since that's not going to happen every time, Rachel Lustgarten, a registered dietitian and food safety expert at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, has a good rule of thumb to go by.

"If the container no longer feels frozen to the touch and the melted ice cream is not visibly frozen anymore, the pint or tub should be discarded," Lustgarten told TODAY Food. "Also, you want to make sure to avoid the temperature danger zone of 40 degrees to 140 degrees."

That means that even semi-melted ice cream should be tossed and not refrozen.

"Freezing prevents the growth of listeria but will not kill it," said Lustgarten.

Sharing isn't always caring

In addition to not refreezing melted ice cream, think twice before letting the whole family eat straight from the same ice cream container.

"Double dipping with a dirty spoon is also not only inconsiderate, it's an invitation to every nasty bug nearby," wrote Bashir.

Also, when making ice cream at home, Lustgarten recommended keeping all ingredients in the refrigerator until they're ready to be used. She also recommend using a recipe that calls for an egg-free, cooked base or substituting raw eggs for powdered eggs.

Now that you're armed with this very important ice cream safety knowledge, it's time to get scooping — just make sure to eat up all that creamy goodness before it melts.