Have fun on the grill this season, but be safe! Follow these basic tips to make your cookout one that everyone will enjoy and stay healthy!
1. Don’t wash your meat: Washing your meat under running water only spreads the bacteria to your sink, into the air and to you. Cooking should take care of any bacteria.
2. Contamination: Avoid cross-contamination by using a separate cutting board for meat and another one—or two—for preparing your salad or other foods.
3. Use paper towels, not cloth towels, to clean up: People think towels are green, but you’ll be the one who is green if you get sick from contamination. Use a clean, single-use paper towel to wipe surfaces, your hands, and your utensils when preparing raw meat—and throw it away.
4. Wash your hands again—and again—before, during and after preparing meats: And don’t touch your refrigerator handle, spice bottles, dishes or cupboards with your dirty hands.
5. Keep your meat cold before it hits the grill: Don’t marinate chicken or beef at “room temperature” as some recipes say. This gives bacteria an excellent place to grow.
6. Your thermometers—one for the refrigerator and one for meat—are your best friends: And they will make you the best cook. This is the only way to ensure meat is fully cooked while not being overcooked. Also, have a thermometer for your refrigerator.
7. Don’t use the same utensils and dishes for raw meat and cooked meat: Wash those dishes and utensils, or switch to newly cleaned ones while the meat is cooking.
8. Cooking temperatures: Your chicken is cooked when it reaches 165 degrees F; ground beef, 160 degrees F.
9. Serve your food promptly and enjoy.
10. Store leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible: Make sure it’s no more than two hours and one hour in warm weather (above 90 degrees F). Reheat all leftovers to a safe temperature of 165 degrees F.