June Wellness Spotlight
Grilling into Food Safety!
As the summertime heat and sunshine brings people out of their houses and into their backyards, parks, and camping sites, it’s important to remember that the summertime heat can bring an increase in the risk for foodborne illnesses and grilling accidents. Here are some tips and tricks to keep you safe from foodborne illnesses and grilling accidents!
Unwashed hands and surfaces are a prime source of foodborne illnesses. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking. If you are eating away from home at a picnic or camping pack clean cloths, alcohol-based moist towelettes and hand sanitizer.
Separate! Don’t Cross-Contaminate
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood, last right before you check out. Try and keep the meat separated from the other items in your cart and to further guard it against cross-contamination, put the packages into individual plastic bags. When marinating your meats make sure to throw out anything that has touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Also use clean utensils and plates to removed cooked food from the grill.
Cook to Safe Temperatures
Meat and poultry cooked on the grill often brown very quickly on the outside that means using color is not a good way to decide whether meat, poultry or fish has been cooked to a safe temperature. The only way to truly know that meat has been cooked to safe internal temperature is to use a food thermometer.
For more information on safe cooking temperatures: Food Safety Charts
Having food left out for more than two hours or holding it at unsafe temperatures is a prime cause in foodborne illness! Cold perishable foods like meat, poultry, seafood, and potato or pasta salads should be kept at 40°F or below until ready to serve or grill. Whenever possible keep cold perishable foods refrigerated or in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs, or frozen water. Make sure to keep a cooler out of the sun and in a shaded spot or in a shelter.
Here are some grill safety tips to keep you and your home safe this barbecuing season:
- Grill outside and away from structures
- Make sure your grill is stable and on a flat surface
- Keep your grill clean
- Check for propane leaks
- If the flame goes out, turn the gas and grill off, wait at least 5 minutes to re-light it
- Be cautious with charcoal starter fluid
- Be ready to put out the fire with fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand