March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Expert Tips for "Grade A" Grilling
Summer may be the traditional grilling season, but more than half of Americans fire up the barbecue all year-round! Whether you're a Weekend-only Griller or an Every Day Grill Gourmet, beef up your food safety with these helpful, hot-off-the-grill tips.
Let Leftovers Go
While food safety experts say grilled foods have a refrigerator life of only three to four days, many grillers keep leftovers for up to a week or longer. But keeping grilled foods for too long can affect both taste and quality. Make sure your grilled leftovers are as safe as they are delicious by refrigerating foods in shallow containers (no more than 3 inches deep) and writing the date on top to help you keep track. Also be sure to reheat foods to an internal temperature of 165°F before serving a second time around use a food thermometer to check.
Clean Your Machine
According to a recent survey1, gas grills are America's favorite grill of choice, with 67 percent of the vote. Charcoal grills follow second (46 percent) and a small percentage prefer smokers (10 percent) or outdoor electric grills (4 percent). Before you fuel the fire or rake the coals, follow manufacturer's instructions to clean your grill.
Develop a Taste for Safety
According to a recent survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics2, 31 percent of people say the most common thing that causes food poisoning is undercooking or not cooking to proper temperatures, but only 23 percent of Americans use a food thermometer to check the doneness of their hamburgers, chicken breasts and other grilled favorites! Cooking to proper internal temperatures not only helps ensure the taste of your grilled dishes, it also helps ensure their safety. Next time you grill, grab a food thermometer to make sure your culinary creations are delicious, nutritious and done.
Cut Condiment Bacteria
Data shows that mayonnaise is America's top selling condiment, followed by salsa, ketchup and mustard3. Whatever condiment strikes your fancy, follow these food safety tips: Always marinate meat in the refrigerator (never on the counter or outside by the grill), and bring leftover sauces to a boil before reusing them on cooked meats to prevent cross-contamination. Remember condiments should not be left sitting out for more than two hours (one hour in weather above 90°F). It is a smart idea to bring a cooler or keep condiments in a bucket of ice.
Keep the Upper Hand
The survey conducted by the Academy found that while 77 percent of Americans use different cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods, only 9 percent always or usually wash utensils before using them for cooked foods. These grilling shortcuts may save time, but they also can leave you with a case of foodborne illness! Take precautions by washing cutting boards and utensils in hot, soapy water between uses, or use color-coded sets to keep raw meats, seafood and poultry and ready-to-eat foods separate. And always, always wash your hands!
Watch the Clock
The Academy survey indicated 21 percent of people believe picnic foods can sit out in summer heat for more than two hours without refrigeration. Not true! In temperatures of 90°F or more, the "two hour rule" becomes the "one hour rule." Next time you dine outdoors, keep guests safe by setting out perishable food items in one-hour shifts. After each shift, place uneaten food back in a refrigerator set below 40°F. Or, keep perishable foods on ice to make sure they stay properly chilled.
Download: Learn more with the Safe Grilling Guide.
1 2011 Weber GrillWatch Survey
2 2011 Consumer Knowledge of Home Food Safety Practices Survey
3 SymphonyIRI Group