Food poisoning peaks in the summertime, when warmer temperature make it easier for bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli to grow on raw meat and produce. Every year, an estimated 76 million Americans get sick with vomiting or diarrhea from contaminated food.
Here are some health & safety tips to help you and your loved ones avoiding food poisoning this weekend.
Food safety starts in the grocery store. Shop for meat last to keep it cold as long as possible. Put it in a plastic bag to separate meat, poultry, and seafood from other items in your cart and grocery bags.
In the car, use an insulated cooler to keep meat below 40ºF. As soon as you get home, immediately refrigerate meat in a separate part of the refrigerator from other food. Keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to grill.
Clean your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Disease-causing bacteria can also survive in around the kitchen on cutting boards, countertops, knives, utensils, and the grill.
If you don’t want to taste last season’s hot dogs, here’s a tip: Use an onion to clean your grill. Take half an onion, heat up grill to high, and push the onion back and forth over the grates with a fork. Spray the grates with white vinegar or lemon juice. The acids will help break down the grime and take the residue off a hot grill.
Using natural methods to clean your grill instead of a bristle-brush also avoids the risk of accidentally leaving dangerous wire bristles behind. Eating a broken wire can turn a delicious hamburger into an quick trip to the hospital for emergency surgery.
You should cook your food to an internal temperature that is hot enough to kill bacteria and use a food thermometer for make sure. Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, or veal should be grilled to 145ºF. Fish should be grilled to 145ºF, or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. Hamburgers and other ground meat should be grilled to 160ºF. Chicken and other poultry should be grilled to 165ºF.
After you remove the meat from a grill, let it rest. During the rest-time, its temperature remains constant or rises slightly, which destroys harmful bacteria without over-cooking the meat.
Things can get hectic in a busy backyard, but be careful not to cross-contaminate raw meat with ready-to-eat foods at any point during the grilling process. Marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices should be thrown out. Cooked meat should be put on a clean plate — not the same one that was used to prep the meat or veggies.
In hot weather, refrigeration is just as essential for your beer as your meat. Grilled meat should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking, or one hour if it is above 90ºF outside. Divide the leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate them in covered, shallow containers.
Source: Get Ready to Grill Safely