Grill safely this summer

Remember, foodborne illnesses can be prevented


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The summer grilling and travel season has begun, along with the season of foodborne illness. An estimated 128,000 Americans are hospitalized with food poisoning each year, but foodborne illnesses can be prevented during summer months by properly handling perishable foods during travel, and by using a food thermometer when grilling.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offer the following guidelines:

Perishable food items, including raw meat and poultry, need to be handled safely before they hit the grill. Bacteria grow rapidly in warm temperatures, so perishable foods need to be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to reduce bacterial growth. Perishable foods held above 40 degrees for more than two hours should not be consumed. In hot weather (above 90 degrees), food should be discarded if it sits out for more than one hour.

The best way to keep food cold during the summer is to use a cooler. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler. The beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside of the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods.

Prevent juices from raw meat and poultry from cross-contaminating other items in your cooler by placing raw meats in waterproof containers before placing them in the cooler.

Ensure you have all the tools and utensils you may need before heading out to the grill. Grab these items: food thermometer, paper towels or moist towelettes, and two sets of cooking utensils (tongs, spatulas, forks). Use the first set to handle raw items and the other for cooked foods.

Put out plates or containers for cooked items. Never place cooked foods on the same plate or container that held raw meat or poultry.Before eating any meat or poultry you have grilled, verify any potential illness-causing bacteria has been destroyed by using a food thermometer.



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