Summer has come again with a bang!
A bang up time for most families includes enjoying fun in the sun, swimming, playing in the park, digging in the dirt, building sand castles on the beach and, of course, grilling!
We love grilling meals outside when the summer sun calls us!
Detective Foodsafe® reminds us that safe summer grilling takes a little coaxing so that we won’t become victims of food poisoning just when the party starts!
Perils of the Grill
When we think about grilling over hot coals or a gas flame, one of the first images that pops into our minds in terms of safety is avoiding burning ourselves. Touching the hot grill, cleaning it when it is scalding, or dispersing the briquettes when the grilling is done can be a dangerous time if we aren’t careful.
However, Detective Foodsafe wants us to remember that unsafe food handling and preparation during the summer months can lead to illness and injury (even hospitalizations) from ways other than burning ourselves on the grill.
Did you realize that food poisoning is more common from home cooking than eating out?
1 in 6 of us will be victims of food poisoning this year!
Even more shocking for most of us to learn is that the Food and Drug Administration estimates that 2-3% of food poisoning cases will lead to long term illnesses such as kidney failure, arthritis, and meningitis.
We should all remember that we can’t see or smell germs in our foods that cause foodborne illness.
Tips for Safe Summer Grilling
It only takes a short time for germs to multiply in the food you want to cook and serve. Foodborne illness is preventable with these simple steps.
Detective Foodsafe’s Tips for Safe Outdoor Eating:
- Don’t skip the handwashing. No matter if you are in the backyard, at the beach, the park, camping, or wherever your grill calls home, proper handwashing is still important when handling food. Always wash at least before and after handling food.
- Be sure to preheat the coals for 20-30 minutes before you add the food. You want it to cook thoroughly without lingering to reach the proper temperature.
- Use a food thermometer when you grill to test the internal food temperature. Check out this guide for safe food temperatures. Be sure the thermometer goes into the thickest part. When cooking multiple pieces, test each piece as the temperature of the grill will vary. Keep your food thermometer clean between uses.
- Separate cooked food from raw food and use separate utensils and plates. Don’t bring the cooked meat or poultry in on the same plate you brought out the raw food.
- Don’t serve the marinade that was used to flavor the food without heating it by boiling to a proper temperature. Remember that the marinade held raw meat and poultry. Also, keep the marinating food cold until you are ready to put it on the grill.
- If the food is ready before you are ready to eat, keep it warm on the side of the grill in the heat instead of sitting on a table without proper temperature control.
- Don’t let raw meat, poultry, or eggs sit out in the heat. Keep them refrigerated until ready to cook/serve.
- Store leftover foods quickly, within two hours. If the temperature is over 90 degrees, store leftovers within one hour. Keep your cooler in the air conditioned car not the hot trunk for transporting raw foods and leftovers.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods and as serving boards. Keep surfaces clean and don’t forget to sanitize the coolers before the trip.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot the entire time you are handling them, even if you are traveling to the park or campsite.
Detective Foodsafe wants us to also bring along plenty of ice, soap for handwashing, enough coolers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and enough serving plates and utensils to use clean ones when needed.
Staying food safe at the grill is something we can all do to enjoy our summer fun in the sun!