(Meredith) – For many Americans, grilling season is here. But with grilling season comes the risk of improper food handling and food poisoning. Here are a few food safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to keep your friends and family free of food poisoning and illnesses.
- Each year 128,000 Americans are hospitalized with food poisoning.
- Foodborne illnesses can be prevented during summer months by properly handling perishable foods during travel, and by using a food thermometer when grilling.
Traveling with perishable foods
- Pack raw meats in a cooler.
- If you’re traveling to your favorite grilling location and are bringing perishable food items like raw meat or poultry, be sure to keep them at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Bacteria grow rapidly in warm temperatures.
- Foods that are kept at temperatures higher than 40 degrees for more than two hours should not be consumed.
- Consider packing beverages in one cooler and raw meats in another. The beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods.
- Prevent the juices from raw meat and poultry from cross-contaminating other items in your cooler by placing raw meats in waterproof containers before placing them in a cooler.
Tools you need for proper grilling
- Food thermometer
- Paper towels or moist towelettes
- Two sets of cooking utensils (tongs, spatulas, forks, etc.). Use the first set to handle raw items and the other for cooked foods.
- Plates or containers for cooked items. Never place cooked foods on the same plate or container that held raw meat or poultry.
Before serving cooked meats, be sure to check the internal temperature. Here’s what it should be:
- Beef/Pork/Lamb/Veal/Steaks/Roasts/Chops: 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ground meats: 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whole poultry/Poultry breasts/Ground poultry: 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Storing cooked meats
- Be sure to store all leftovers in a refrigerator or freezer within two hours after cooking, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees.
- Refrigerated leftovers should be consumed within three to four days.