As we move further into summer, and especially into the week of the Fourth of July, we know many will be heating up their grills for some tasty back yard fun. A few simple safety tips can help insure this grilling season will be one to enjoy – and not one that sends you to our Express Care of the Shoals urgent care and walk-in clinic.
The two biggest safety concerns when grilling include the threat of cross contamination and undercooked meat – both of which can be avoided by using the four concepts outlined by the US Dept. of Agriculture:
1. CLEAN – Begin with clean hands and clean surfaces. Make sure that you and your guests wash hands before preparing or handling food… and especially insure that hands or surfaces that come in contact with raw foods are washed frequently in the process.
2. SEPARATE – Raw meats and poultry should be prepared separately from vegetables and cooked foods. Uncooked meats can easily transfer potential pathogens to other foods. Use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils.
3. COOK – Insure that meat is thoroughly cooked. Meat and poultry often brown quickly on a grill and may appear to be done on the outside, but they may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature which is required to kill any harmful bacteria. A meat thermometer can assist you in knowing when the proper recommended internal temperatures are reached. (Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal –ensure a stand time of 3 minutes at 145˚F. Fish – 145˚F; Hamburgers and other ground beef – 160˚F. Poultry and pre-cooked meats like hotdogs – 165˚F.) Be sure to place cooked meats onto a clean surface, and not onto the dish that held them when they were raw. Juices left from raw meat can spread bacteria to cooked foods. If smoking meats, again use an internal temperature thermometer, and maintain the temperature of the smoker between 225˚F and 300˚F.
4. CHILL – Perishable food should not be allowed to sit out for more than two hours, as bacteria grow most rapidly between 40˚F and 140˚F. If the outside temperature is higher than 90˚F, food should not sit out for more than one hour. Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen promptly, and any food which has been out too long should be discarded. Hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods kept cold.
ENJOY the warm weather, and enjoy a SAFE grilling season by keeping these four tips in mind. Should you need us for anything, however, please know that we are here to help take care of you, your family, and your friends as you celebrate Independence Day and each day this summer.