By Nancy Schive, R.D., L.D.
Summer is officially here, and the 4th of July holiday is upon us. Cooking outdoors can be a healthy summer activity shared with family and friends. However, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illness. Use these simple tips for grilling food safely.
From the Store: Home First
When shopping for foods to grill, buy cold food such as meat and poultry last, right before checking out. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other food in your shopping cart. Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. You may also want to take a cooler with ice for perishables. Be sure to refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour if temperatures are above 90° outside. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4-5 days.
Safely Thaw and Marinate Meat
Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing, or for quicker thawing, you can use the microwave defrost function if the food will be place immediately on the grill. Avoid thawing foods on the counter or by the grill.
A marinade is a savory, acidic sauce in which a food is soaked to enrich its flavor or to tenderize it. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Poultry and cubed meat/stew meat can be marinated up to 2 days. Beef, veal and pork may be marinated up to 5 days. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it. Be sure to boil any of the leftover marinade before reusing it to season cooked meat.
Scrub grill with hot, soapy water before each use. Wash your hands before, during and after food preparation. This is especially important after handling raw meat. Use separate cutting boards, plates and grilling utensils when handling raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.
Cook Food Right
The only reliable way to ensure meat is safe and ready to eat is to use a meat thermometer. Use this internal temperature guide to ensure safety:
Serving the Food and Leftovers
Put all dishes in the refrigerator within 2 hours, and in hot weather (90° or higher), this time is reduced to 1 hour. Leftover grilled foods have a refrigerator life of 3-4 days. If not used within this time period, throw it out. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165° before serving it a second time.
Be Food Safe and Have a Happy and Healthy 4th of July and Summer!
Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Nutrition Services.