Fire it Up!
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Perhaps it’s the gentle climate with temperatures conducive to outdoor cooking for much of the year. Or it might be that an outdoor get-together with family, friends, and good food is a great way to celebrate the summer. Whatever the reasons, outdoor cooking is a firmly established tradition in the South.
Safety is an important consideration when operating a grill. Improper use can cause a fire or explosion. Keep the area around a lighted grill clear of combustible materials, and never use a grill in an enclosed area such as a sheltered patio or a garage. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that may catch fire. The cooking grids should be cleaned after every cookout. The last thing you want to do is cause someone to become ill due to improper cleaning or unsafe food preparation practices.
Wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before starting to prepare any foods, and wash your hands again if you do anything else—change a diaper, pet an animal, or blow your nose, for example. Cover any cuts or sores on your hands with a bandage or use plastic gloves. If you sneeze or cough while preparing foods, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and turn your face away or cough into your sleeve. Always wash your hands afterwards.
Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature. Most bacteria causing food borne illness cannot grow well at temperatures below 40°F or above 140°F. Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Never leave foods out at room temperature.
Keep everything that touches food clean. Bacteria can hitch rides around your kitchen on all sorts of things—plates and cutting boards, dirty utensils, dish rags, sponges and unwashed hands. Never chop fresh vegetables or salad ingredients on a cutting board that was used for raw meat without properly cleaning it first. If possible, keep a separate cutting board for the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and fish. Wash cutting boards thoroughly with hot soapy water and sanitize with a solution of household bleach and water.
Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices from coming into contact with other foods during preparation, especially foods that will not be cooked. Wash all utensils and your hands with hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat.
Marinate meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator in a covered, non-metal container. Throw away any leftover marinade.
Grill food to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to assure food is done and has reached the proper temperature. Safe minimum internal temperatures:
Poultry (whole, ground, and breasts): 165°F
Hamburgers, beef: 160°F
Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops):
Medium rare: 145°F
All cuts of pork: 160°F
Hold meat at 140°F until served. Use a clean platter for transferring cooked meat from grill to serving table.
Summer is the time for getting together with friends and family and cooking outdoors. Make your outdoor grilling experience safe and enjoyable.
For further information regarding food safety and other related topics, go to the University of Florida’s Solutions for Your Life website: http://www.solutionsforyourlife.com.
Safe Food Handling Fact Sheet, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Series