With independence day a week away, the government has released a video with advice on how to grill food safely.
The video – put forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – is intended to help people apply its 4 steps for safe food preparation to outdoor cooking. The steps include: clean utensils and surfaces, cook to the proper temperature, separate raw meat from cooked meat, and chill leftover food or meat that has yet to be cooked.
By following these steps, people will be able to “celebrate freedom from foodborne illness” this 4th of July, says the video.
“Summer is full of big picnics like the 4th of July…and summer also with its warm temperatures is an ideal time for bacteria to grow faster.” says Dian Van, manager of USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline. “So it’s important to remember the 4 basic messages of clean, cook, separate and chill.”
To meet these criteria while grilling, USDA recommends that people do the following:
– Bring cleaning items with you to keep hands, utensils and surfaces clean.
– Bring separate plates and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods so that juices from raw meat don’t contaminate meat that’s ready to be eaten.
– Bring a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to safe internal temperatures
– When transporting food in a cooler, put a thermometer in the cooler to make sure it’s at 40 degrees or below. Cool it with ice and ice packs. Consider using a separate container for cold drinks since you may open it more frequently.
– Don’t let food sit out for more than one hour in hot weather. If you don’t know how long the food has been sitting out, Van says to go by the mantra “When in doubt, throw it out” – advice commonly given by FSIS and FDA in warnings about potentially compromised foods.
It’s important to bring along a food thermometer” says Van, “you can’t tell by looking.”
Burgers should be cooked to 160 F, while poultry should reach 165 F.
USDA recommends using the AskKaren application to get answers to food safety questions from anywhere.
The video ends with advice for those who may not have absorbed all its lessons: “Got all that? If not, it’s your patriotic duty to ask a question online at www.AskKaren.gov or by calling the USDA’s meat and poultry hotline at 1-888-MP-Hotline.”