Food Preparation Safety
Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours.
Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90F.
At home, place meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator immediately.
Freeze poultry and ground meat that won't be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
Completely defrost meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water.
You can microwave to defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
Safe Food Preparation
To prevent food borne illness, don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
Only use knives and cutting utensils for one thing, either for meat or for vegetables. Thereafter, the utensils should be thoroughly washed.
NEVER place the grilled meat back on the dish or board on which the raw meat was placed, as this has blood and juices from the raw meat.
NEVER use knives or dishes that have been used for the raw meat for the grilled meat, too.
Clean all counters and cooking surfaces, with hot soapy water before use.
Clean all cutting boards with hot soapy water before use.
Avoid using the same plate for raw and cooked food.
Marinade in the refrigerator and discard the marinade immediately after use.
Use a separate brush one for marinating and another for basting cooked meat.
Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
Discard the marinade immediately after use.
If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it. However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Safe Food Handling
Keep all raw and cooked food separate and keep it “wrapped and refrigerated".
Use separate BBQ utensils when handling raw and cooked food.
Make sure frozen meat is thoroughly thawed (unless otherwise stated) before cooking and do not refreeze once thawed.
Cook thoroughly. Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. The only way to be sure foods are cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate digital instant-read thermometer. Thermometer use to ensure proper cooking temperature is especially important for those who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk for food borne. Those most at risk include young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
Unless you are in a big hurry or you like for your meat to be dry, do not press on it. You will just be squeezing out all those wonderful juices. Additionally, squeezing the juices on the coals and crating smoke is not healthy.
Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked before serving. Only large whole pieces of meat may be a bit pinkish inside. Sliced or smaller pieces of meat should be well done.
Ground meat, because of the grinding process is typically more exposed to harmful pathogens. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160ºF. Color is not a reliable indicator that ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7. Eating a pink or red ground beef patty without first verifying that the safe temperature of 160ºF has been reached is a significant risk factor for food borne illness. When a ground beef patty is cooked to 160ºF throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of color.
Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145ºF.
All cuts of pork should reach 160ºF
All poultry should reach a minimum of 165ºF
All cuts of pork should be cooked to 160ºF throughout.
Keep Hot Food Hot
After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served - at 140ºF or warmer.
Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200ºF), in a chafing dish or slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Serving the Food
When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food. In hot weather (above 90ºF), food should never sit out for more than 1 hour.
When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs, grill to 165ºF or until steaming hot.
Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90ºF).
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use.
Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.
Store the meat on an even tray and only take the meat out of the refrigerator when the barbecue is ready.
If a large portion of meat is to be used, try to take out only the amount that fits on the grill and grill the rest later.
Meat and poultry can be marinated for several hours or days to tenderize or add flavor.
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA regularly writes about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, bodybuilding, men's health, women's health, weight management, weight loss, vitamins and supplements and alternative medicine. His work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, blogs, RSS Feeds, as well as print magazines, and many other online health, nutrition, and fitness websites.