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Food Safety Tips for Barbecuing
Provided by the Barbecue Industry Association
Barbecuing is popular year around, but people head to their backyards to fire up the grill in record numbers when the temperatures soar. Scrupulously following food safety guidelines is important at all times, but it becomes especially crucial during warm weather because escalating temperatures encourage bacteria and other pathogens to multiply and cause foodborne illness. Here are some simple guidelines to help ensure safe grilling.
• When shopping for meat, fish and poultry, put them in your grocery cart last. Never buy a package that's damaged or torn and check "sell-by" and "use-by" dates. Put packaged raw meat in plastic bags so leaking juices cannot cross contaminate other foods.
• Load grocery bags with meat and other refrigerated foods in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk.
• Take groceries home immediately or bring along a cooler with ice packs and place the meat in it. Refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible.
• When carrying food to a picnic, the beach or a tailgating party, keep it cold. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40° F. Remove food from the refrigerator and pack the cooler just before leaving the house.
• If including take-out foods -- such as deli potato salad, coleslaw or baked beans -- eat within two hours of picking them up. Otherwise, purchase them in advance and chill thoroughly, then transport in a cooler and reheat those that should be hot just before eating.
• If you won't use meat, fish and poultry within a few days, freeze it immediately.
• Store refrigerated meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator in its original packaging. The more times the food is handled the more chance of contamination. Put a plate under the package, or place in a plastic bag, to avoid juices dripping onto refrigerator shelves
• Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, never on the counter; allow sufficient defrosting time. Or immerse packaged food in cold water to thaw. If you're in a hurry, thaw in the microwave just before grilling it.
• Hand washing is paramount. Wash your hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after each time you touch raw meat, and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children.
• Keep raw meat, poultry and fish and their juices away from other food. That means thoroughly washing cutting boards, knives, platters, etc. before letting them come in contact with other foods you're preparing or with cooked foods you're about to serve.
• Sanitize cutting boards and countertops with chlorine bleach. Pour on small amount and let stand several minutes, rinse thoroughly and air dry or dry with clean paper towel. Soak sponges and dishcloths in hot soapy water to which you've added chlorine bleach.
• Marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter.
• Boil any marinade to destroy bacteria if you plan to baste with it or serve it with the cooked meat. Never save marinades for a second use.
• Pre-cook (chicken/ribs) immediately before grilling. Never let partially cooked food sit for more than a few minutes before tossing it on the grill to finish it.
• Cook meat thoroughly. Rare is no longer de rigueur! Use a meat or "instant read" thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature. As a guideline, poultry 180°F (breasts 170° F), beef, lamb, veal roasts/steaks 145° F to 160° F, any burgers 160° F, all pork 160° F.
• When grilling away from home, take meat out of the cooler just in time to put it on the grill and never take out more than will fit for immediate grilling. Keep cooler closed.
• Reheat foods or fully cooked meats like hot dogs by grilling to 165° F, or until steaming hot.
Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups; never char the meat.
• Refrigerate leftover food quickly (no more than two hours) and use within a couple of days.
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