Two Rules for Safe Outdoor Meals

When cooking and serving meals outdoors, remember to make food safety part of your planning. Keep these two guidelines in mind:

Grilling meat and using a food thermometer
  1. Don’t Cross Contaminate
  • When marinating food for grilling, refrigerate during the marinade process.
  • Keep your raw fish, meat, and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Have a clean plate to carry food to and from the grill.
  • Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they have been in contact with raw fish, meat, or poultry.
  • Be sure to have an extra clean utensil to remove cooked food from the grill.

2. Use a Food Thermometer

Experienced cooks may think they know when food is done just by looking at it, but this may not be the case. Burgers can turn brown before they are fully cooked. Germs that cause foodborne illness are not killed until a safe internal temperature is reached. This is where a food thermometer comes in. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat.

Use a thermometer to test for doneness:

  • Fish—145°F
  • Steaks, chops—145°F
  • Ground meat—160°F
  • Poultry—165°F

Food Safety: Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Chicken on cutting boardCross-contamination is a potential risk when preparing a variety of foods. It happens when harmful bacteria from one food, especially raw meat, is transferred to another food. It usually happens when cutting boards, knives, counter tops, and your hands are not washed after handling each food item.

Steps to prevent cross-contamination include:

  • When shopping, keep produce and meats separate by putting each in plastic bags. Make sure the grocery bagger keeps them separate as well.
  • Always use a clean cutting board. If possible use different boards for fresh produce and raw animal products. Also, do not use excessively worn cutting boards; replace them.
  • Wash dishes and counter tops with hot soapy water before and after preparing each food item. When refrigerating food, make sure juices from raw meat and other animal products do not drip onto other foods. Keep them in sealed plastic bags or containers and stored below ready-to-eat food items.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling food, allowing about 20 seconds while using soap and warm water.

Get more information on how to avoid cross-contamination.

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