Get To Grillin'

Show-Me Life

Avoid food-borne illness, cook meat to correct temperatures.

Published on: May 28, 2013

Pork steaks from Mizzou Meat Market-$7.16

Propane tank filled-$20

The smell of barbecue on the grill-Priceless.

Memorial Day weekend kicks off our family's barbecue season. It brings about the sights, sounds and smells of summer. And I don't care if you are cooking up beef, pork, chicken, turkey or lamb, for our family, it just does not get any better than that. Honestly, I am not sure how those who are vegans can resist the smell of a slab of meat cooking on the grill, my mouth waters just writing about it.

However, sometimes those popular outdoor meat, side dishes and treats, if prepared improperly, can put a damper on even the most festive occasion thanks to foodborne bacteria. So to make sure illness does not interrupt you holiday plans, I thought I would pass along some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tips.

Avoid foodborne illness, cook meat to correct temperatures
Avoid foodborne illness, cook meat to correct temperatures

When hosting your summer cookout remember four basic food safety steps—clean, separate, cook and chill. Here are tips offered by FSIS:

Clean
Begin your cookout with a clean slate. Wash preparation surface areas with warm soapy water, especially after contact with raw foods. Wash your hands with soap under warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Have family or friends who are helping prepare food wash their hands as well.

Separate
Raw meat and juice from raw meat can contain harmful bacteria. To prevent cross-contamination, keep all raw meats and poultry separate from vegetables and cooked foods. Use different cutting boards and knives to prepare meats and vegetables.

Cook
The most important weapon in your food safety toolbox is the food thermometer. Proper heating temperatures kill foodborne bacteria. Despite what many people believe, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to take a temperature reading. After reaching proper internal temperature, thick cuts of lamb, beef, and chicken require a three-minute rest time before carving and consuming.

Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures include:

Hot dogs—165 °F or until steaming hot,

Poultry—165 °F,

Ground beef and other ground meat—160 °F,

Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal and beef—145 °F (followed by a three-minute rest time), and

Fish—145 °F.

Remember to place cooked meats on a clean platter, not on the dish that held the raw product. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.

Chill
Too often, food is prepared and left to sit out while guests munch over the course of several hours. Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. To keep bacterial growth at bay, keep hot food on the grill and place cold food in a cooler or ice bath. Never let perishable food sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature is higher than 90 °F, food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been sitting out too long.

FSIS provides summer and grilling food safety resources on its website under the heading "Grill It Safe."

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