A True Grill Meister Honors Food Safety!

A True Grill Meister Honors Food Safety!

By Mary Hill, MS, Guest Blogger

Think you have the best baby back ribs this side of the Hudson River?  Those tender, juicy ribs won’t score you any bonus points if your guests start heaving on the drive home.  As the scorching days of summer have arrived, it might be worth your while to remember a few pointers that can ensure a rockin’ barbecue that is as safe as it is fun.

Clean for Good Karma
Good things come to Grill Meisters who prepare for guests by making sure you clean your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food.  Anything that comes into contact with raw or cooked food on the day of your barbecue should also be clean, including cutting boards and serving utensils.

Separate with Savvy
This rule’s so simple:  always prepare raw meats and poultry separately from vegetables and other cooked foods–juices from raw meats may contain harmful bacteria that you don’t want in your veggies or pasta salad.  No cutting an extra tomato slice on the board where you just had a raw chicken breast! That will definitely increase the heave risk-factor.

Cook with Cunning
Let your grilling skills shine while impressing your guests by sporting a new high tech food thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of those turkey burgers is 165 degrees before you serve them.  “They look done!” you might say, but color can’t be trusted, and bacteria may abound.  Place your food thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to make sure you’ve cooked everything to the correct temperatures:

  • Pork, lamb, veal, and whole cuts of beef: 145 degrees
  •  Hamburgers and other ground meat : 160 degrees
  • All poultry: 165 degrees
  • Fish: 145 degrees
  • Hot dogs: 165 degrees

Earn extra kudos by placing your grilled goodies on a clean platter, NOT the dish that held them when they were raw.

Be a Chill Meister As Well As a Grill Meister
To truly honor food safety, it’s essential to keep food at a safe temperature during your picnic or cookout.  Remember, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Bacteria that can cause illness grows most rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees, so you should never let any food that can go bad sit outside without cooling for more than 2 hours, and if it’s over 90 degrees outside, no more than 1 hour.  Cool your foods with ice packs or ice in a cooler.

Still think you are a true Grill Meister?  Honor these food safety tips at your next barbecue and you are on your way to greatness!

Mary earned her M.S. in Nutrition Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2013 and will be completing her dietetic internship in August 2013. After completing her dietetic internship, Mary plans to work as a clinical dietitian.

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