NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Safe Summer Grilling

food safety, grilling meat

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

The days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer ... and that means summer is here! And with summer comes gatherings outdoors with food, fun, and fellowship. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when cases of foodborne illness increase. But, you can avoid those uninvited guests by safely packing, preparing, and storing your special summer foods. Here are some food safety tips to consider when grilling.

Always marinate raw meats, fish, or poultry in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Set aside a portion of the marinade before adding raw meat or poultry to use later as a dip or basting sauce. Do not reuse the marinade the raw meat was soaked in. You can boil the marinade for five minutes to be sure to kill any bacteria from the raw meat.

Save time on the grill by partially cooking meat or poultry ahead of time, then finish it on the grill. The food should go directly to the grill from the microwave, range, or oven, though. Interrupted cooking is very risky. If you must cook well ahead of serving time, cook the meat completely and then cool it fast to put on the grill later. Either way, be sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.

Make sure the grill is ready. For safety and quality, check that the coals are very hot before cooking food. This can take 30 minutes or longer. Coals should have a light coating of grey ash for optimal heat.

Thoroughly cook all meat and poultry. To ensure meat is cooked thoroughly, use a meat thermometer. To properly use a meat thermometer, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; be sure the end of the thermometer does not rest on the cooking surface. Use the chart below to be sure whatever you are cooking reaches the right internal temperature.

Meat type and safe minimal internal temperature:

Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts, chops -145 degrees F 

Hamburgers, beef - 160 degrees F 

Pork, all cuts - 160 degrees F 

Poultry, all cuts - 165 degrees F 

Serve hot, grilled foods immediately. Put cooked foods on clean plates, not ones used to hold raw meat or poultry. Perishable foods should be eaten within 2 hours, or 1 hour if outside temperature is above 90 degrees F. Keep cold foods cold (below 40 degrees F) and hot foods hot (over 140 degrees F). Avoid the "danger zone" of 40 to 140 degrees F.

Clean the grill after each use. Also, refrigerate any leftovers promptly. Divide larger quantities into small, shallow containers for faster cooling.

If you want to take any leftovers home, be sure that all perishable foods were kept on ice or refrigerated at all times, except when cooked or served. Keep the foods iced as you travel home and refrigerate as soon as you get home. If food is no longer refrigerator-cold to the touch, harmful bacteria could be present.

REMEMBER: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Source: www.eXtension.org

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