Since the Fourth of July is the high point of summer grilling season for many American families, we at Food Safety News like to remind everyone this time of year of a few simple safety tips to keep your Independence Day free of foodborne illness.
The two biggest safety concerns when grilling involve the threat of cross-contamination and undercooked meat. Both of those issues are addressed by remembering four key concepts outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Start with clean surfaces and clean hands. Be sure that you and your guests wash your hands before preparing or handling food. Most importantly, make sure that the surfaces that come in contact with raw and cooked foods are clean before you start and are washed frequently.
Any potential pathogens on uncooked meat can easily be transferred to other foods or surfaces. Raw meats and poultry should be prepared separately from vegetables and cooked foods. As you chop meats and veggies, be sure to use separate cutting boards, knives and utensils. If you have handled raw meat with your hands, make sure to wash them thoroughly before handling any other food or utensils.
Make sure meat is cooked thoroughly all the way through. When cooked on a grill, meat and poultry often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to make sure you’ve reached the recommended internal temperatures:
145° F for whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal. Ensure a stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature.
145° F for fish.
160° F for hamburgers and other ground beef.
165° F for all poultry and pre-cooked meats like hot dogs.
Place cooked meats on a clean surface, not on the dish that held them when they were raw. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread bacteria to cooked food.
If you are smoking meats, the temperature in the smoker should be maintained between 225° F and 300° F for safety. Again, check the internal temperature of the smoked meat with a meat thermometer to ensure it’s fully cooked.
Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40° F and 140° F, so perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature outside is higher than 90°F, food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been sitting out too long.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept hot on the grill and cold foods can be kept chilled with ice packs or ice sources in a cooler.
With those four key concepts in mind, have a great — and safe — Fourth of July!© Food Safety News