You can grill just about anything! Do you know that there are food safety steps to follow no matter what you’re cooking? Keep reading to learn about safe grilling of all foods.
HANDS: No matter what you’re grilling, always start with clean hands especially before and after touching raw meat, poultry, and seafood items to prevent the spread of food-borne illness bacteria.
FOOD: Washing food items- You should wash some, but not others:
- Always wash fruits and vegetables before preparing. Run fruits and vegetables under clean, running water and gently rub to remove any debris. If you are using firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and zucchini, use a vegetable brush to scrub. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
- Never wash or rinse meat, poultry or seafood items. Doing so greatly increases your risk of cross-contamination because bacteria can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. If you must rinse your meat or poultry because of a marinade or brine, be sure to thoroughly clean and then sanitize all surfaces, including the inner sink, to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.
RAW & COOKED: Always keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as salads, dips, fruits, and vegetables.
PLATES & UTENSILS: Get a clean serving plate ready for when the items are done. Pay attention to utensils used while grilling – the tongs you used to place raw burgers on the grill could be contaminated with harmful bacteria, which could spread to fully cooked burgers.
WHEN IS MY FOOD DONE? Grilling uses direct high heat to cook items – it’s what gives them the classic grill marks that everyone loves. However, those marks can make items look done before they actually are. This can be a major safety issue! When grilling meat, poultry, and fish, it’s important to use a food thermometer to make sure your items are truly being cooked through to a safe minimum internal temperature.
The recommended safe internal temperature varies depending on the product you’re cooking, so use this handy list to know what yours should reach:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F (with a 3-minute rest time)
- Ground meats (including burgers and hot dogs): 160°F
- Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F
- Fish: 145°F
For information on fully cooking other seafood products, including shrimp, you can view this Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart.
Fruits & Vegetables:
When grilling fruits and vegetables, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Marinating vegetables is a great way to infuse flavor and moisture into your vegetables before cooking on the grill – but never use leftover marinade that has been used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood items.
- While fruits and vegetables may not have to reach a safe minimum internal temperature the same way meat, poultry, and seafood do, different fruits and vegetables will have different cooking times. Thicker cut fruits and vegetables, and denser vegetables (such as potatoes), will take longer to cook. Because of the high heat of the grill, this can result in a thoroughly cooked outside but an uncooked inside of the fruit or vegetable. For more even cooking, cut fruits and vegetables into smaller pieces and use a medium to low grill temperature. For thinner sliced fruits and vegetables, turn them often and pay attention to when they may be done so you don’t end up with burnt fruits and veggies.
Use these tips and you’ll have delicious and safely grilled food all summer long. For any food safety questions about grilling, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. You can also visit FoodSafety.gov and follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.
Adapted from an article posted by Meredith Carothers, MPH, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA; Howard Seltzer, Division of Education, Outreach, and Information, Office of Analytics and Outreach, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/06/05/summer-grilling-how)
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