Cooking outdoors was once a summer activity shared only with family and friends. Now more than half of Americans say they are cooking outdoors year round. So whether the snow is blowing or the sun is shining, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from causing foodborne illness. Use these simple guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture for grilling food safely.
Keep Everything Clean
Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters.
If you are grilling and eating away from home, find out if there is a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning or pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Separate Raw and Cooked Foods
To prevent foodborne illness, do not use the same platter, cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate cooked foods.
Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill tend to brown quickly on the outside, so use a food thermometer to ensure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
MEATS: Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least 3 minutes before carving or consuming.
GROUND MEATS: All raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.
POULTRY: Poultry should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.
Keep Cold Food Cold and Hot Food Hot
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out what will immediately be placed on the grill.
When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sunlight by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
For hot foods, after cooking meat and poultry, keep it hot until served-140 degrees F or warmer. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200 degrees F, in a chafing dish, slow cooker or on a warming tray.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees F.
When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs or hamburgers, grill to 165 degrees F.
Enjoy cooking on the grill for family and friends and keep them safe from foodborne illness.