Spring is finally attempting to arrive! The days are warmer and we are seeing more of the sun. After being cooped up for so long, I am noticing a boon of folks outside grilling. In fact, I went to the grocery store over the weekend with my own grilling in mind, only to find that the meat department was bare! Grilling is a healthy cooking option and isn’t just for meats. Veggies are great on the grill and can be foil wrapped or held in a grilling basket. Fruit and veggie kabobs are one of my family’s summer favorites. Regardless of what you put on the grill, it is important to keep it food safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1) Food safety starts at the grocery store. Especially on warm days (70 degrees and above), remember to take a cooler with you to keep meats cold on the way home. Keep the cooler in the passenger area of the car as it is air conditioned and will not be as hot as the trunk.
2) Store meats in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them. If you plan to grill a frozen product, plan ahead and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or defrost it in the microwave just prior to grilling. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter.
3) Be mindful of marinades. If you intend to keep the marinade for later use, be careful not to contaminate your marinade by touching the utensil to the meat and then placing it back into the marinade container. If you plan to use the marinade you have applied to the meat as a dipping sauce or topping, it must be heated to a boil.
4) Use a thermometer to check for doneness. Visit www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html for a list of minimum internal cooking temperatures for food safety.
5) Use a clean plate for cooked items; never use the same plate for raw and cooked products.
6) Remember to use separate cutting boards for raw meats and items that will not be cooked. For example, prepare your hamburger patties on one cutting board and your sliced tomatoes and onions for on your hamburgers on another cutting board. If you only have one cutting board, make sure to wash, rinse, and sanitize the cutting board after working with meats and before preparing ready to eat items.
With these food safety principles in mind, you are sure to have a safer time at the grill. Enjoy!