Friday, July 6, 2012

Calling All Grill Masters!!
Okay, so you made it safely through the Annual Fourth of July picnic. I am guessing that some of you slid through unscathed, and without tummy troubles because you were just plain lucky! Remember just because it happens to be the lazy hazy days of summer you can’t relax your food safety techniques. You want to make sure your grilled goodies don’t make your guests sick with a foodborne illness.

Here are some things you want to pay close attention to:

1. When shopping–Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in the shopping cart. To guard against cross-contamination which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food place packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.

2. Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. You may want to take a cooler with ice for your perishables.

3. Defrost safely–Completely defrost meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing. You can defrost in the microwave if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.

4. Marinating – Meat and poultry can be marinated for several hours or days to tenderize or add flavor. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

5. Transporting-When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40º or below.

6. Keep cold food cold. – Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often.

7. Keep everything clean- Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent foodborne illness, don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.

8. Precooking – precooking food partially in the microwave, oven or stove is a good way of reducing grilling time. Just make sure that the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to complete cooking.

9. Cook thoroughly-Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature.

• Poultry - 165ºF,

• Hamburgers made of ground beef 160ºF,

• Ground poultry 165ºF,

• Beef, veal, lamb steaks, roasts and chops-145ºF.

• All cuts of pork should reach 160ºF.

10. Keep hot food hot – After coking meat and poultry on the grill keep it hot until served -140ºF or warmer.

11. Serving the food – When taking the food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food. In hot weather (above 90ºF), food should never sit out for more than one hour.

12. Leftovers – Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperatures are above 90ºF).

Adapted from information from the UDSA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service

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