USDA Offers Summer Food Safety Tips For Grilling Pros and Newbies
WASHINGTON – As millions of Americans welcome summer, the US Department of Agriculture reminds people to keep it safe: Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance for COVID-19 and remember your food safety practices.
Rates of foodborne illness tend to increase during the summer months, as germs grow faster in hot, more humid weather. People also cook and eat outside, making the shortcuts to food security tempting.
Don’t let foodborne illness ruin the barbecue. Follow food safety guidelines, such as washing your hands, cooking your food thoroughly, and checking the temperature of food with a thermometer. For those who choose to celebrate outdoors, the USDA has a few tips.
Many people can grill on their own for the first time. An important lesson for beginner grills is to remember that color is never a reliable indicator of safety and cooking.
Use a food thermometer to ensure safe internal temperatures. Cook the poultry at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook steaks, chops and roasts of beef, pork, lamb and veal at 145 degrees. For safety and quality, allow meat to sit for at least three minutes before cutting or eating. Cook the ground beef, pork, lamb and veal at 160 degrees. Bake egg dishes at 160 degrees. Cook the fish at 145 degrees.
Don’t have a food thermometer? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
Although frozen food may appear precooked or browned, it should be handled and prepared in the same way as raw food and should be grilled at appropriate temperatures. Frozen products can be labeled with phrases such as bake and serve, ready to bake, and ready to bake to indicate they need to be baked.
Cook the meat well. Many grill masters like to use already tender meats to which marinades have been added to get the most out of their meal. However, mechanically tenderized beef, including prepackaged cuts in marinades, must be well cooked to ensure food safety.
If the outside of the meat contains bacteria, they will be transferred to the inside of the meat during mechanical tenderization, requiring cooking to kill the germs. The best way to ensure a worry-free barbecue is to cook the tenderized meat thoroughly. Use your food thermometer and follow USDA recommendations for safe internal temperatures.
One hour rule
When the outside temperature rises above 90 degrees, perishable foods, such as meat and poultry, cold dips and salads, or cut fruits and vegetables can only be safely left on the table for an hour. After an hour, harmful bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness, may start to grow. To avoid this, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
According to a recent USDA survey, nearly 85% of participants said they did not keep cold foods on ice when serving them. Store cold foods at an internal temperature of 40 degrees or less by keeping them on ice or in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
In the same survey, 66% of participants indicated that they do not keep their cooked foods, such as burgers and hot dogs, warm after cooking. Hot perishable foods should be kept warm (above 140 degrees) until consumed, or refrigerated within an hour.
Know your surroundings
At your outdoor barbecue, make sure you have hand sanitizer or wet wipes available to keep your hands clean before, during and after preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
Use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Use alcohol-based wet wipes to sanitize cutting boards or utensils.
For questions about food safety in the summer, call 888-674-6854 or chat live at ask.usda.gov, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.
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