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Extension Agent: Learn to grill safely

By By Brenda Phipps
June 19, 2012 at 1:19 a.m.

Brenda Phipps

Welcome to the first day of summer - time to start grilling. Outdoor grilling is a fun way to cook for family and friends. Follow these simple steps before, during and after grilling to ensure a clean workspace and safe food preparation.

Thaw safely by placing frozen meat in the refrigerator. Do not thaw at room temperature as this can increase the number of germs that make a person sick.

Marinate foods safely to add flavor, not germs. Marinate only in the refrigerator - never on the counter top. If you want to use the marinade for a sauce on cooked meat, it is best to make an extra batch of marinade and set it aside.

Transport foods safely. When taking raw meat, poultry, or seafood to another location, keep it cold (40 degrees or colder) with ice or ice packs. Place foods in the cooler right before leaving and take only what you plan to cook and eat that day. Do not keep other foods in the same cooler as raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Wash your hands before and after touching raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Wash work surfaces and cutting boards with hot, soapy water and sanitize before and after grilling. You can make a sanitizing solution by mixing one teaspoon of bleach with one quart of water.

Wash utensils and platters used to hold raw foods with hot soapy water before using them to serve the cooked food. Otherwise, the unwashed platters and utensils will re-contaminate cooked foods.

Cook foods to a safe internal temperature so harmful germs are killed. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill can brown very quickly, making it look like it is done. However, the only way to tell if a food is cooked enough is to measure the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

Cook fish, steaks, roasts, and all cuts of pork to 145 degrees.

Cook ground meats (like burgers) to 160 degrees.

Cook all poultry cuts and hot dogs to 165 degrees.

To check the temperature, place a food thermometer in the center-most part of the food - away from any bone. If the food is not done, continue to cook. Be sure to wash the thermometer before reusing. Flip meat, poultry, and fish at least one time to ensure even cooking. To reduce grilling time, you can partially cook foods in a microwave, oven or stove. Just be sure that those foods are immediately placed on a preheated grill to finish the cooking process.

Keep hot foods hot. Keep cooked meat, poultry, fish, and seafood at 140 degrees or warmer until served.

Keep cold foods cold. Cooked foods like meat, poultry, or seafood should be eaten or refrigerated right away. Never let foods sit out at room temperature for more than two hours and when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees, cooked foods should be eaten or stored within one hour.

Brenda Phipps is a Victoria County extension assistant.

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