Fourth of July Grilling – Food Safety Tips

The classic Fourth of July cookout is an event with family and friends, eating simple American food in backyard grilling parties.

According to a survey by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA),  73% of people will be firing up the grill for July 4th –  making it the #1 grilling event.

But, foodborne illnesses increase during the hot summer months – because not only does bacteria multiply faster in warmer temperatures – but preparing food outdoors makes safe food handling more challenging.

Food Safety Steps

Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish. Follow these steps for a safe and enjoyable grilling season:

Chill in Preparation

Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep below 40°F in an insulated cooler.

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Clean

  • Wash Hands
    Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
  • Check and Clean your grill and tools
    Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.

Separate

  • Shopping
    When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
  • Marinades
    Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods.
  • Avoid cross-contamination
    To prevent foodborne illness, do not use the same platter, cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate cooked food. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.

Cook

Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.

  • 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
  • 145°F – fish
  • 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
  • 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
  • Smoking: 250°F – 300°F – inside smoke
  • After Grilling:140°F or warmer – until it’s served

Chill – Refrigerate Leftovers

Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).

National Fire Protection Association Grilling Safety Tips

This grilling season, NFPA tests your knowledge and demonstrates the proper way to use your grill safely to prevent fires.

Grilling Food Safety Resources

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