By Diane Burnett, K-State Research and Extension, Miami County, Family and Consumer Sciences AgentThe Fourth of July is over, the air is getting warmer and summer is here. Along with summer comes gatherings outdoors with food, fun and fellowship. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when cases of foodborne illness increase. You can avoid those uninvited guests by safely packing, preparing and storing your special summer foods. Here are some tips from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service on the “ABC’s of Barbecue.”
Marinating safely: Always marinate raw meats, fish or poultry in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Set aside a portion of the marinade before adding raw meat or poultry to use later as a dip or basting sauce. Do not reuse the marinade that the raw meat was soaked in. You can boil the marinade for five minutes to be sure to kill any bacteria from the raw meat.
Pre-cooking: You can save time on the grill by partially cooking meat or poultry ahead of time, then finishing it on the grill. The food should go directly to the grill from the microwave, range, or oven, though. Interrupted cooking is very risky. If you must cook well ahead of serving time, cook the meat completely and then cool it fast to put on the grill later. Either way, be sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.
Grilling: Make sure the grill is ready. For safety and quality, check that the coals are fiery hot before cooking food. This can take 30 minutes or longer. Coals should have a light coating of gray ash for optimal heat.
Thoroughly cook all meat and poultry. To ensure meat is cooked thoroughly, use a meat thermometer. To properly use a meat thermometer, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat making being sure the end of the thermometer does not rest on the cooking surface. Use the following guidelines to be sure that whatever you are cooking reaches the right internal temperature:
- Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts, chops:145 degrees
- Hamburgers, beef: 160 degrees
- Pork, all cuts: 160 degrees
- Poultry, all cuts: 165 degrees
Grilling and cancer risk: The American Cancer Society suggests trimming off visible fat that could make the fire flame up and char the food. Pre-cooking in the microwave and conventional oven also lessens grilling time and reduces risks. The society also suggests raising the cooking level of the grill so food is farther from the heat. You should also avoid eating charred or burned portions of food and clean the grill well after cooking.
Serving grilled food: Serve hot, grilled foods immediately. Put cooked foods on clean plates, not ones used to hold raw meat or poultry. Perishable foods should be eaten within two hours, or one hour if outside temperature is above 90 degrees. Keep cold foods cold (below 40 degrees) and hot foods hot (above 140 degrees). Avoid the “danger zone” of 40 to 140 degrees.
Cleaning up: Clean the grill after each use. Also, refrigerate any leftovers promptly. Divide larger quantities into small, shallow containers for faster cooling.
Taking leftovers home: If you want to take any leftovers home, be sure that all perishable foods were kept on ice or refrigerated at all times, except when cooked or served. Keep the foods iced as you travel home and refrigerate as soon as you get home. If food is no longer refrigerator-cold to the touch, harmful bacteria could be present.
Remember: When in doubt, throw it out.
For more information about food safety, call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline: (800) 535-4555, or K-State Research and Extension, Miami County at (913) 294-4306 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.