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Practice Safe Food Handling When Cooking, Eating Outdoors

Posted May 24, 2002

— Few things taste quite as good as food cooked on the grill. However, few things feel as miserable as foodborne illness.

The warm weather helps bacteria grow quickly in foods, however, there are simple things you can do to make sure your food is safe.

Start with clean hands:

Before touching food to be grilled, scrub hands with hot, soapy water. If you are not at home, take along moist towelettes. Clean hands often, especially after handling raw meats like beef or chicken.

Keep cold foods cold:

It is a good idea to use two coolers; one for cold drinks that is opened often, and one for perishable foods that should be kept closed until ready to use.

Keep perishable foods in the cooler until you are ready to serve them. As soon as possible after serving, return them to the cooler.

Use two sets of plates when cooking:

Never place grilled meat on a plate that has had raw meat on it. The meat juices quickly contaminate the cooked foods.

Use a meat thermometer:

Take the guesswork out of grilling by using a thermometer to check the doneness of meats:

  • Steak: at least 145 degrees
  • Hamburgers: 160 degrees
  • Pork: 160 degrees
  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks: 170 degrees
  • Chicken breasts: 180 degrees
  • Plan to eat as soon as the food is prepared:

    Keeping food at outdoor temperatures for more than an hour can be risky. Perishable foods like potato salad, barbecued chicken or burgers that have been out in the sun for a hour or more should be thrown away to prevent illness.

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