Safe Summertime Grilling Reminders

Sausages and burgers on the grill

Grilling is a great way to help keep the kitchen cool during the summer months and yet prepare delicious meals. Here are some quick reminders to keep the food you grill safe.

  • Cold food colds until ready to grill. Bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature, so meat should remain in the refrigerator until ready to grill. Marinating should be done in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. If grilling will be done away from home, make sure to transport meat and other cold foods in a cooler with some ice. The goal is to keep meat at refrigerator temperature.
  • Do not reuse the plate that was used to take the meat to the grill. Juices from raw meat and poultry are high in bacteria and could contaminate the cooked meat.
  • Use two cutting boards. One for preparing meat. One for chopping vegetables.
  • Color is not an indicator of doneness. Recent USDA research studies indicate that some ground beef may turn brown before it has reached a safe internal temperature of 160°F. The only safe way to determine if food is done is to use a food thermometer. An instant-read thermometer takes the guess work out of grilling.
  • Avoid partially cooking meat. If you must cook ahead, cook the food completely, cool it quickly in the refrigerator in shallow containers, and reheat it on the grill.
  • Know these safe internal minimum temperatures measured by a food thermometer as determined by the USDA. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook food to higher temperatures.
CategoryFoodTemperature (F)
Ground meat and meat mixturesBeef, pork, veal, lamb160
Turkey, chicken165
Fresh beef, veal, and lambSteaks, roasts, chops145
Poultry (turkey, chicken, duck, goose)Whole poultry, breast, thighs, legs165
Pork and hamFresh pork and ham145
Precooked ham (to reheat)140
SeafoodFin fish145 or until flesh is
opaque and flakes
with a fork
Shrimp, lobster, crabCook until flesh is
pearly and opaque
Clams, oysters, musselsCook until shells
open during cooking
ScallopsCook until flesh is milky
white, opaque, firm
As a general rule, let your food rest for 3 minutes after it is removed from the heat in order to continue to kill dangerous germs. Chart source: Cornell Cooperative Extension

So get out there and enjoy your grill, knowing that you are doing all you can to keep your food safe.

Updated 4/2024, mg.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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