The summer is prime time for outdoor grilling but as with everything, we must think about safety.  Use these simple guidelines to grill your food safely and prevent harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.

1. Defrosting:

Always defrost your meat and poultry completely before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Take your meat out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the refrigerator for safe thawing. Only use the microwave to defrost if the food will be grilled immediately.

BBQ Grill
BBQ Grill

2. Marinating:

Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature on the counter.  If you plan on using some of the marinade as a sauce for the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting any raw meat and poultry in it.  Throw away any remaining marinade that has touched raw foods after you are done.

3. Transporting:

When transporting food from one location to another, keep it cold to reduce the growth of bacteria. Always try to keep the food at 40° F or below. Transport thefood in the coolest part of the car and in an iced cooler if possible.

4. Cooler Safety:

When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun. Avoid opening the lid too often. Use separate coolers for perishables and beverages.  Never reuse the ice in a cooler that was storing raw meats.

5. Keep Everything Clean:

Always use clean utensils and platters when cooking and serving. To prevent food-borne illness, never use the same platter or utensils for raw and cooked meat and/or poultry.

6. Cook Thoroughly:

Cook food to a safe internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill can brown rapidly on the outside. Use a food thermometer to ensure the food has reached a safe internal temperature. Whole poultry should reach 180° F; breasts, 170° F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160° F; ground poultry, 165° F. Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145° F. All cuts of pork should reach 160° F.

7. Keep Hot Food Hot:

Always keep food hot until served (140°F or warmer). Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side so they are not directly above the hot coals.  The cooked meat can also be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200° F), or in a chafing dish.