Going back to the grill: food safety tips for this Memorial Day

Monument Day marks the first outdoor summer celebration for much of the US and that means this is the first time many of us will be back on the grill in a long time.

If you’re celebrating, it’s good to review these important outdoor food safety tips to keep everyone safe this Memorial Day weekend.


It is important to follow proper handwashing steps before, during, and after preparing food to prevent bacteria from transferring from hands to food.

According to recent USDA consumer research, 56 percent of the participants did not attempt to wash their hands during meal preparation. This is a significant drop in handwashing attempts from previous years of research.

In addition to low handwashing attempts, about 95 percent of participants did not wash their hands properly. The most common reason in the study for failed handwashing was not rubbing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, followed by not wetting hands with water as the first step.

There are five steps to proper handwashing: wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, and dry.

Use a food thermometer
Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food and determine if it is safe to eat. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, or through the side or patties, to get the most accurate temperature reading.

Use a food thermometer to make sure the following foods have reached their safe internal temperatures:

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Steaks, chops, and roasts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal: 145 degrees F with a 3-minute rest

Fish: 145 degrees F
Egg dishes: 160 degrees F
Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal, venison, etc.): 160 degrees F
All poultry (whole or ground): 165 degrees F

Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from RTE foods
If you plan to cook for the holiday weekend, inside or out, separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Use one cooler for raw meat and poultry and another for RTE foods like fruits, vegetables, cheese and desserts. Bring two sets of plates and utensils for handling raw meats and serving cooked foods to limit the chances of cross-contamination.

watch out for the heat

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Summer weather can be hot and humid, which means food won’t stay safe as long as indoors. When the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F, perishable foods such as meat and poultry, cold sauces and salads, or cut fruits and vegetables are only safe on the table for one hour.

Keeping cold foods cold is an important step in keeping foods safe and healthy, so store them on ice, in coolers, or in your refrigerator and freezer.

Like cold foods, hot perishable foods should be kept hot, above 140 degrees F, until consumed. You can easily do this by moving these items to the side of your grill away from the main heat source, rather than removing them from the grill entirely.

pathogenic vectors
Chip bags, fruit platters, condiments, and other foods can carry pathogens through cross-contamination from people if they don’t wash their hands.

Norovirus can be spread through food and also in swimming pools, and ponds, lakes, and streams can be a breeding ground for E. coli. Touching playground equipment in parks and backyards can get bird droppings on hotdogs, hamburgers, and buns.

Parents should make sure children wash their hands properly and use hand sanitizers before eating.

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Source: www.foodsafetynews.com