By KATHY SMITH
No one really wants to think about food poisoning when they are enjoying the outdoors and grilling food. But food safety is just as important when you are grilling outdoors as when you are in your kitchen.
The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection service offers great information in “Grilling Food Safety 101” online at www.foodsafety.gov/blog/grillingsafety.html.
It is important to make sure that meat is thoroughly cooked when grilling. People used to think that if the meat is pink, it isn’t done and if it is brown it is good to it. But food safety experts have found that that isn’t always true. Meat can be pink and be cooked thoroughly and safe to eat. And food that is brown may not be safe to eat at all. The only way to make sure that your meat is safe to eat is by using a food thermometer.
Be sure to insert the thermometer so that it is at the thickest part of the meat, but not against the bone. For hamburgers, insert the thermometer sideways and be sure it is testing the center of the patty.
Safe temperatures include:
• Hot dogs – 165 degrees Fahrenheit or until steaming hot.
• Poultry, including ground poultry – 165 degrees F.
• Ground beef and other ground meat – 160 degrees F.
• Whole cut pork, lamb, veal, and beef, including steaks and chops – 145 degrees F. (followed by three-minute rest time.)
• Fish – 145 degrees F.
Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later. Cook all at one time. Also, keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. If you are at home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at 200 degrees F, in a chafing dish or slow cooker.
Don’t take cooked food from the grill and put it on the same plate that held the raw food. After you place the food on the grill, either thoroughly wash the plate and utensils or use a clean plate and set of utensils for cooked food. It is too easy to cross-contaminate cooked food with raw food.
Don’t let food stay out too long. The general rule is to not let perishable food sit out without refrigeration longer than two hours. However, with weather about 90 degrees limit the time to no longer than one hour.
Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.