For many of us cookouts with friends and family is what summer is all about, but at the same time you also want to remember food safety for outdoor grilling and eating to avoid the possibility of food borne illness. Check out these simple guidelines from Martha Ross, registered dietitian with Carilion Clinic, to ensure safe grilling and eating outdoors this summer.
1. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
It's as simple as it sounds. Be sure to keep food out of the "Danger Zone" (40 to 140 degrees) where foods spoil more rapidly. Keep hot foods in warming trays or to the side of the grill avoiding direct heat. Store cold foods in ice baths, coolers or in the fridge until ready to be served. Another suggestion is to place cold foods in two separate containers. One can be stored in the fridge while the other is left out for serving. Once the first container is empty, simply grab the second container from the fridge for everyone to enjoy.
2. Watch the clock.
Food should not be left out for more than two hours and no longer than one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. The longer food is left out, the more time harmful bacteria have to grow and the easier it is for food to spoil. Try not to over prepare food. It is safer to make more food as needed than to let too much food sit out.
3. Cook all meats to the safe minimum cooking temperature.
Use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature of meats to ensure they reach a level safe for consumption. A grill can blacken meats quickly, making them look done while the inside may still be raw. Follow the minimum cooking temperatures below: Hamburger, sausage and other ground meats – 160 degrees poultry – 165 degrees lamb, pork, veal and beef cuts – 145 degrees fish – 145 degrees
4. Keep hands, utensils and surfaces clean - even during meal prep.
Remember to wash your hands, utensils and surfaces with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Also wash surfaces, utensils and hands between handling and preparing of different foods to help avoid any cross-contamination. Store raw meats in separate containers from other foods.
5. Know the symptoms of food poisoning.
Food poisoning occurs between 12 to 72 hours after consumption. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramps. If symptoms last longer than 72 hours, be sure to seek medical attention.
By following these guidelines, you can be sure to enjoy a fun and safe cookout with family and friends!