Summer is here and if you haven’t already had a cookout, it’s time to think about cooking outdoors. Although many people cook outdoors all year around, summer is still a time for barbeques. Here are some simple guidelines from the USDA and ISU Extension for safe food grilling, to prevent bacteria from multiplying and possible food borne illness from happening to you.
From the store: Separate raw meat and poultry in your shopping cart to prevent cross contamination. If meat juices drip unto uncooked food, it can spread bacteria. Plan to go directly home from the grocery store or take a cooler and ice with you. All perishable food should be refrigerated within two hours and one hour if the temperature is above 90°.
Thaw safely: Thaw meat before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Thaw in the refrigerator, in cold running water, or the microwave. Use the microwave only if you are going to cook it immediately.
Transporting: When transporting food to another location, keep it cold. Use ice or cold packs to keep food at less than 40° Pack cold food directly from the refrigerator into insulated coolers for transport.
Keep everything clean: Use clean platters and utensils. Don’t use the same platter for raw and cooked meat. Harmful bacteria from raw meat can contaminate cooked meat. Take clean water with you for cleanup or use moistened towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Cook thoroughly: Just because it looks done, does not mean meat and poultry have reached safe internal temperatures to prevent food borne illness. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it is safe. Beef and pork steaks should reach 145°for medium rare, 160° for medium. Ground beef and ground pork should be at 160°, and all poultry to 165° to be considered safe to eat.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: Cold foods should always be kept at 40° or less. Hot foods should be held at 140° or more. Foods should not left out for more than 2 hours or only 1 hour if the temperature is 90°.
If you have any questions about grilling call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline number 1-888-674-6854 or Iowa State University Extension Answer Line at 1-800-262-3804.