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Grilling Guide for Summer

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Grilling is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and Summer is peak grilling season. No matter the type of grill you use, grilling food should always start with proper food handling. Here are some simple guides for grilling food safely:

Wash Away Bacteria

Avoid providing a hotbed for bacteria when you grill. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of food-borne illness, also known as food poisoning. Other culprits include unwashed perishable foods such as meats, fish, seafood, and peeled or cut fruits and vegetables.

Keep Foods Cold

Keep all perishable foods cold. If you’ll be meeting up with friends away from your backyard grill, it’s best to transport all perishables including raw meat, poultry, and seafood in an insulated cooler kept cold with ice or frozen gel packs.

Throw away any perishable leftovers that have been out of the refrigerator or cooler for more than two hours — or only one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F.

Keep coolers out of direct sunlight and avoid opening them frequently, allowing the cold air to escape and the hot outside air in to melt your ice or ice packs.

Marinate Safely

Marinated meats should be stored immediately in a refrigerator or cooler, not on the kitchen counter or outside next to the grill. As long as a marinade is stored in a cool environment, it can remain there for several hours or even days. Do not use marinade from the raw/meat marinade mixture as a sauce for the cooked meat, unless you first cook the marinade to a boil, destroying all harmful bacteria from the raw meat.

Using Grilling Shortcuts

Pre-cooking food partially indoors before putting it on a pre-heated grill will give you quick results when your friends are really hungry, or your grill is slow or small. Conversely, you can first flame-grill meat for a smokey, chargrilled flavor and then bake in an inside oven until the food is cooked properly.

Cook Thoroughly and Use a Meat Thermometer

It’s best to cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. On the grill, meat and poultry will brown quickly, but the inside might be only partially cooked. To be certain that your food has reached a safe minimum temperature, use a meat thermometer.

Here are some guidelines for safe minimum internal temperatures:

Chicken Breast: 165 degrees
Beef Hamburgers: 160 Degrees
Beef/Veal/Lamb (steaks, roasts, chops): Medium Rare: 145, Medium: 160
All Pork: 160 degrees

Fortunately, most people seldom get sick from contaminated food, and consumers can feel safe knowing that with proper refrigeration and thorough washing and cooking, most harmful food-borne illnesses can be avoided entirely.