Grilling dinner is a fast and easy way to get food on the table during the hot summer months. But while serving dinner, you want to take precautions to make sure that you aren’t accidentally serving a foodborne illness to your family members and friends.
The Be Food Safe program aims to prevent foodborne illnesses caused from improper food handling through an education and awareness campaign. The program was created through a collaboration of several government agencies–U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria are all potential party crashers if people don’t pay heed to proper food handling,” said Chris Wicker, DeCA’s public health advisor in a Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) press release.
DeCA wants its patrons to know that these “potential party crashers” can be easily prevented with proper food safety. Remember those food safety rules from home economics class? Here’s a quick refresher.
5 Food Safety Tips You Need to Remember When Grilling This Summer
1. Start Clean. The first step in food safety is working with clean hands on a clean surface. Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (hum the Happy Birthday song in your head) before handling food. Always. The Be Food Safe program also recommends cleaning your grill before preparation. When was the last time you cleaned your grill?
2. Keep Marinating Meat in the Fridge. The Be Food Safe program advises that “any food that is marinating should be covered and kept in a refrigerator until ready to cook.” Don’t thaw meat on the kitchen counter. Another food safety no-no is reusing marinade containing raw meat.
3. Don’t Cut Corners When Cooking. Grilled meat must be thoroughly cooked before consuming. Don’t try to rush the process and don’t serve food that isn’t completely cooked. Unsure if your hamburgers are ready? Always use a meat thermometer and then compare the interior temperature reading with this handy dandy chart from FoodSafety.gov.
4. Eat Hot Off the Grill. Keep the food hot by wrapping it in aluminium foil and placing it in a insulated container. The goal is to eat food that is 140 degrees or warmer. Once the food is taken off the grill, be sure to eat it within 2 hours. The Be Food Safe program recommends that you eat hot take-out food within 2 hours of purchase.
5. Keep the Cold Side Dishes and Desserts Cool. Food safety isn’t only for the person manning the grill. Keep those chilly side dishes, such as potato salad and macaroni salad, cool. The Be Food Safe program says that these types of salads and certain desserts need a constant temperature at or below 40 degrees. Always put them on ice inside a cooler when traveling to a picnic and keep them in the cooler when you aren’t eating.
For more information on eating food outside or handling food safely outdoors, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.