By: Melissa Chavez MS RD LDN
Food Safety for Cookouts
It’s July! You may be planning a cookout for the 4th of July and/or many other times this summer. While you may be looking up which recipes are trending this season, it is important to think about food safety as well. You don’t want to miss out on the fun this summer because you are locked up in the bathroom with foodborne illness (commonly called food poisoning). Below we have included some tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer.
The top causes for foodborne illness are:
- Improper cooling of food
- Not cooking to hot enough temperature
- Food handler being infected
- Food prepared a day or more ahead of time
- Food left in the temperate “Danger Zone” (between 40° and 140 °F)
* A great place to start is with clean hands - always wash hands before handling food and after touching raw foods.
*Remember to rinse fruits and vegetables with cold water and gently rub away any debris.
*Thaw meat ahead of time in the refrigerator. If you are in a hurry, place frozen food under cool running water, thaw in the microwave, or cook from a frozen state (frozen state may take up to 50% longer). You may have grown up leaving frozen meat on the counter and rinsing it before cooking. However, leaving frozen food at room temperature poses the risk of the food reaching the temperature “danger zone”. Even if the middle of the package is still frozen, the outer layer may be in the danger zone.
Skip the step of rinsing meat. Rinsing meat, seafood, or poultry may seem like a good idea, however this raises the risk of cross-contamination to other surfaces.
It is also important to remember to keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate.
Tips at the Grill -
Place a clean plate and utensils next to the grill to use to remove the cooked food. This way you avoid touching the cooked food to the surfaces the raw food was in contact with.
Also remember to cook to the proper temperature -
● Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F (allow a 3-minute rest time)
● Ground meats (e.g. burgers and hot dogs): 160°F
● Poultry (whole, breasts, and ground):: 165°F
● Fish: 145°F
Also, remember to keep cold foods cold by using a cooler with ice or ice packs for transport. Perishable ready-to-eat foods should remain in the cooler throughout the event.
After the meal, ensure all food that was served is cooled to 40°F and discard leftovers that were served.
So, when you are cooking next remember:
Clean: Wash surfaces and hands frequently
Separate: Don’t allow raw and cooked foods to touch
Cook: Cook to the correct minimum internal temperature
Chill: Refrigerate quickly