Are you ready to get your grill on? Memorial Day is just around the corner and thousands of us will be entertaining guests and firing up the grill. Many of our favorite family foods can be dangerous if not properly prepared. But, it’s not just the food that can make us sick. We need to be cautious with everything from the grill to the dishtowel to the plate we carry our raw foods on. To keep you, your friends and the entire family safe, be sure to use proper techniques when preparing, serving and re-handling foods.
- Keep all equipment safe– If you have not cleaned your grill since last year, now is the time. Scrub the grill, outdoor utensils, coolers and other containers with hot soapy water before cooking your favorite summertime foods.
Your cooking equipment also includes your apron & dishtowel. These items can easily harbor bacteria if you are using them to clean up spills, wipe raw juices or wipe dirty hands. Consider paper towels for drying hands and wipes for cleaning spills.
Lastly, avoid cross-contamination, one of the most common concerns during outdoor grilling season. Keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods separate. Also, be sure to use a new plate to place prepared foods. Never brush meats to marinate with the same utensil you brushed raw foods. Bring lots of extra plates, utensils, paper towels and make sure there is extra soap and water for keeping hands clean.
- Prepare food safely– this includes any prep work that is being done in preparation for your picnic or party. Be sure to wash hands before, during and after preparation. Make sure you never partially pre-cook meat or poultry before transporting. If the item must be precooked, cook it until it is done, cool, pack in the cooler and then re-heat as necessary.
Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check that food has been cooked to a proper internal temperature. It is not enough if the food simply “looks” done.
Never reuse marinates that have come into contact with raw meats.
- Keep food safe after cooking– The higher the temperature, the less time foods can remain out of refrigeration. The typical two hour rule does not apply in hot weather (greater than 90 degrees F). Rather, it gets cut in half to 1-hour. Keep cold foods on ice so that they stay below 40◦ F or hot foods hot (over 140◦ F).