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Column: Grilling safety tips

Posted: July 16, 2018 2:59 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Now that summer is in full effect and the 4th of July has kicked off our official grilling season, there are some things you need to know. Summer grilling safety is vital to ensure that there are no visits to the emergency room due to fire or a foodborne illness. Think about it: Who wants the local fire department crashing your gathering or for a guest to end up in the emergency room due to food poisoning?

First things first, know the basic tips for a food safe summer. Plan a menu that is appropriate for your location. If you decide to barbecue outside on your lawn, take food to the park or on the beach, you can keep food safe for yourself and others to enjoy.

Once your menu is set in place, decide what fruits, vegetables, or meat products will be taking a trip with you, meal prepping and dining involves these next four steps.

Clean.

Separate.

Cook.

Chill.

Clean all surfaces and utensils, and properly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Working with clean hands and surfaces is the first step to combat foodborne illnesses.

Separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods. Even after you have washed and cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, uncooked foods can still spread bacteria that can lead to illness. Cross contamination is the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another. Ensuring that you know how to prevent cross-contamination is a key factor in preventing foodborne illness. Take it a step further and have a cooler for raw foods while traveling and a cooler for ready to eat fruits and vegetables in another. This helps prevent raw juices from leaking and contaminating other foods. Grill masters, when grilling, should stay away from the same old plate. When taking foods off the grill, do not place cooked foods back on the same plate that once held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap.

Cook using a food thermometer to ensure that specific foods reach the proper cooking temperature.

Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F with a 3- minute rest time

Ground meats: 160°F

Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F

Chill raw and prepared foods promptly. Do not leave food out for longer than one hour within these hot summer days of 90°F and above. If at all possible, try to keep your cooler out of direct sunlight by placing it in a shaded area. Always have an insulated cooler with a cold source such as ice, or frozen gel packs. Be sure to keep condiments and other cool food items on ice. Along with a traveling fridge, a thermometer can aid in helping you know if your foods have reached the “temperature danger zone,” 40°F-140°F. Heat it and eat it is the rule or you can properly cool it before storing in an air-tight container to refrigerate.

Think about it: Who wants to come over to fellowship with family and friends while having a good time to only end up in the emergency room due to food poisoning? Summers should be full of fun in the sun while creating new memories with those you love. If you have more questions or concerns about food safety contact me, your local food safety and extension agent at fisreal@clemson.edu.

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