Food Safety Tips So You Don’t Get Sick During Barbecue Season (Plus Free Meat Temperature Chart)
It’s summertime and that means we’ll all be getting our grills out to enjoy the warmer weather and eat some delicious barbecue. One of the biggest grilling holidays is the Fourth of July when people like to enjoy parades, fireworks, and outdoor cooking. Nearly 80% of Americans will be hosting or attending some type of outdoor cookout where 150,000,000 hot dogs will be consumed!
Lots of fun will certainly be had but there’s one thing you need to keep in mind during barbecue season: food safety. The warm summer weather can bring an increased risk of foodborne illness since bacteria in food multiplies faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. Stop Foodborne Illness, a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens, wants you to be prepared for not only a fun, food-safe holiday but for a whole summer of grilling.
Before you fire up that barbecue grill, brush up on Stop Foodborne Illness’ food safety practices and tips, from preparation to post-party clean up, so you don’t get sick during/after that summer barbecue.
Before You Cook
Food safety starts at the grocery store. Be sure to keep raw meat as far away as possible from other food items in the cart. When bagging items, keep meat juices from dripping on produce and other groceries by wrapping meats and poultry in separate plastic bags.
Keep in mind that meat, poultry, and other perishable items should be the last to go into your grocery cart and the first to go in your fridge. Bring a cooler with ice when transporting raw meat and poultry home, especially on hot days over 90°F.
When preparing meat for the grill, make two batches of sauce, one in which to marinate raw meat and another to baste cooked meat. Do not place cooked meat in the sauce that was used to marinate the raw meat. Remember to always marinate food in the fridge.
Use separate utensils and dishes for raw and cooked food. Do not serve cooked food on platters that were used to transport raw food to the grill unless they have been washed thoroughly with soap and hot water. The same is true for spatulas, tongs and other utensils.
Grill meat to a safe internal temperature. Using a meat thermometer is the only way to know if the meat is fully cooked—don’t guess! Check the temperature at the thickest part of the meat, and sanitize the point of the meat thermometer in between readings.
Safe Internal Temperatures:
- Burgers/ground meat (except poultry) to 160°F (72°C)
- Chicken and Poultry (including ground, like turkey burgers) to 165°F (74°C)
- Whole cuts of meat including pork to 145°F (63°C), with a 3-minute rest time before serving
- Fish and Shellfish to 145°F (63°C)
Free Meat Temperature ChartDownload
After the Meal
When the temperature outside is 90°F (or higher), perishable foods not eaten within one hour should be thrown away. On cooler (under 90°F) days, perishable foods not eaten within two hours should be tossed out. Potato and macaroni salad are two examples of foods that can quickly become unsafe if left outside on hot days. If there’s food left over it should be promptly refrigerated before you go and enjoy the fireworks show.
I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe summer free of food poisoning/foodborne illness. If you’d like more food safety tips, please visit stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness
Thank you to Stop Foodborne Illness for the assets and information used in this post.