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Environmental Health - Information - Summer Barbeque Food Safety


Chicken on a GrillIt is the time of year to cook outdoors with family and friends. More than half of Americans cook outdoors all year long. Use these simple steps for cooking outdoors safely.






1. Shopping at the store

  • Pick up the meat and poultry right before you check out.
  • Separate raw meat and poultry in your shopping cart.
  • Drive directly home from your shopping. You may want to bring a cooler and ice for perishables.
  • Refrigerate perishables within one hour when temperature is 90 degrees.
  • Freeze poultry and ground meat that will not be used in one or two days.
  • Freeze other meat that will not be used in four to five days.

2. Defrost safely

  • Completely defrost meat before grilling so it will cook evenly.
  • Thaw in refrigerator or thaw in cold water.

3. Marinating

  • Meat and poultry can be marinated several hours or days to tenderize in the refrigerator.
  • If marinade is going to be used during cooking, reserve prior to putting in raw meat or poultry.
  • If reusing marinade that has been in contact with raw meat, bring to a boil to destroy any harmful bacteria.

4. Transporting cooked food

  • Use insulated cooler with ice or ice packs to keep cold food at 40 degrees or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler. Keep cooler in the coldest part of your vehicle.
  • Keep serving dishes and utensils clean. Do not use the same utensils for raw and cooked meat or poultry. Pack clean cloths or towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands if there is not a source of clean water.

5. Grilling food

  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure food has reached a safe internal temperature:
    • Poultry - 180 degrees
    • Breast - 170 degrees
    • Hamburgers - 160 degrees
    • Pork - 160 degrees
  • Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish grilling later.
  • When reheating fully cooked meat, grill to 165 degrees or until steaming hot.

6. Keep hot food hot!

  • Keep meat and poultry on the grill or keep it hot until served at 140 degrees.
  • When serving the food, use a clean platter when you take food off of the grill.
  • In hot weather, food should never sit out more than one hour.

Page last updated: 07/9/13