Diet & Nutrition
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Have a Healthy Grilling Season

We’re well on our way to summer – and the great American tradition of barbecuing. But don’t spoil the party with unsafe food-preparation and cooking practices. Here, the experts from, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, share what you need to know to avoid food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness).

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. The experts say that if you’re eating in a place where there’s no source of clean water, bring water, soap and paper towels, or disposable wipes and hand sanitizer.

Don’t marinate food outside. Instead, do that in the refrigerator. If you want to use marinade as a sauce on food that’s been cooked, the experts say, save a separate portion in your refrigerator. Do not reuse marinade that contacted raw meat, poultry, or seafood on cooked food unless you bring it to a boil first.

Keep raw food separate. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be kept securely wrapped at the bottom of the cooler (or in the refrigerator) so their juices can’t contaminate anything, including cooked food or raw produce. Don’t use a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless you wash them first in hot, soapy water, the experts say. You should have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side for serving.

Cook food thoroughly. The experts say it’s crucial to use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly. You can also partially precook food in a microwave or on the stove, the experts say. It’s a good way to reduce grilling time. But, they caution, make sure the food goes immediately on the preheated grill.

Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly to destroy harmful bacteria. Partial precooking in the microwave oven or on the stove is a good way to reduce grilling time—just make sure the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to finish cooking. Here are some guidelines for the right temperatures

Keep hot food at 140° F or above until served. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill, or wrap well and place in an insulated container.

Keep cold food at 40° F or below until served. Keep cold, perishable food in a cooler or fridge until serving time. Keep coolers out of direct sun and avoid opening the lid often.

Cold foods can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a pan of ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.

Don’t let hot or cold perishables sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F. When reheating fully cooked meats, grill to 165° F or until steaming hot.

For additional information, consult the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart; click here.

Transport food in the passenger compartment of the car where it’s cooler—not in the trunk.


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