Attention Grill Masters!
Avoid Barbecue Blunders With Simple Home Food Safety Tips
As grills across the country heat up for backyard barbecues, so does the risk of food poisoning, making this the perfect time to remind grill masters how to protect themselves and their guests. Simple tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program can help.
Before you fire up the coals, remember to scrub the grill, all outdoor utensils, coolers and other containers with hot soapy water. Use one set of plates and utensils to handle raw foods and another set for cooked foods since cross-contamination tops the list of food safety concerns during the outdoor grilling season. Always wash utensils in warm, soapy water between uses.
Your backyard can become an additional room in your house during the summer months with everything but… the kitchen sink. Devise a plan ahead of time so you are able to wash your hands before, during and after handling foods outside. The best way to wash your hands is in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer near your grill or pack moist towelettes for those moments when soap and water are not readily available.
When preparing favorites like hamburgers, steaks and chicken, remember that using the same brush to baste both raw and cooked meats is a potentially dangerous pitfall. Always use a separate or clean brush to marinate raw and cooked meats, and remember to boil any leftover marinade before using it to season cooked meats. A food thermometer is the only way to ensure food has been cooked to the proper temperature. Relying on color or firmness or waiting for the juices to run clear are common barbecue blunders.
Stock coolers with plenty of ice and/or ice packs and a refrigerator thermometer to make sure foods are stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't let foods stay unrefrigerated for more than two hours, or one hour in hot weather (90 degrees Fahrenheit or above). At your next barbecue, consider setting an alarm on your cell phone to remind you when food should be refrigerated to make sure they remain safe.
Visit homefoodsafety.org for a downloadable chart of safe minimum internal temperatures for all your barbecue favorites.
Reviewed January 2013