This weekend, many of us will celebrate Independence Day with backyard barbecues and cookouts. Before you fire up the grill, we encourage you to follow the following food safety practices from the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture:
- Thaw and marinate safely. Meat, poultry and seafood should be defrosted in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. Marinate in the refrigerator, and if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce, set aside a portion before adding the raw meat, poultry or seafood. Never reuse marinade.
- Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep cold foods at 40°F or below, and hot foods at 140°F or above. Store cold food in a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep it cold. Keep the cooler lid closed as much as possible to maintain safe temperatures. Move hot food to the side of the grill rack, away from direct heat, to keep it warm for serving without overcooking. Food should not be held at temperatures between 40-140°F for more than two hours, or more than an hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F.
- Prevent cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from cooked dishes and fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep the meat securely wrapped to prevent juices from contamination other foods. Don’t use the same platters or utensils for raw meat, poultry or seafood for handling cooked food.
- Invest in a food thermometer. This simple tool, which can cost just a few dollars, is the only reliable way to ensure your food is being held at proper temperatures and cooked to a safe minimum temperature. Make sure to clean the probe on your thermometer between uses to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cook food thoroughly. Cooking to the proper internal temperature kills harmful bacteria. Don’t assume meat, poultry or seafood is done just because it has browned. Following are the recommended safe minimum internal temperatures, according to the Centers for Disease Control:
- Ground meat or mixtures: 160°F for beef, pork, veal and lamb; 165°F for turkey and chicken.
- Fresh beef, veal or lamb steaks, chops or roasts: 145°F.
- Poultry, including whole or individual pieces: 165°F.
- Pork and ham: 145°F for fresh pork and ham; 140°F for reheating precooked ham.
- Eggs and egg dishes: 160°F.
- Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F.
- Seafood: For fish with fins, 145°F or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork; shrimp, lobster and crabs should be cooked until flesh is pearly and opaque; clams, oysters and mussels should be cooked until shells open; scallops should be cooked until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.
- Handle leftovers safely. Promptly refrigerate any leftovers and store at proper temperature. Discard any food left out more than two hours (or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F).
Looking for ideas to grill something other than meat, poultry or seafood? Check out our Grilling Veggie Style board on Pinterest for ideas.
All of us at Freshway Foods wish you and your families a safe Independence Day celebration!