The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline fields a lot of questions about the proper way to grill meat and poultry, and with the season of summer barbecues kicking off this weekend they have compiled a list of tips and frequently asked questions.
Here is a summary of the recommendations:
At The Store
Choose packages that are not torn and feel cold. If possible, put them in a plastic bag so any leaking juices won’t contaminate other foods.
Make the meat counter the last stop at the grocery so purchases stay cold as long as possible.
Separate raw neat from other food in your cart and bag it separately.
If the meat is going for a long car ride, it needs to be stored on ice in a cooler or insulated bag.
Refrigerate or freeze raw meat and poultry as soon as possible after purchase to slow the growth of bacteria.
Never leave raw meat or poultry out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour at 90° F and above).
If refrigerated, at 40° F or below, ground meat and poultry are safe to eat within one or two days. Beef, veal, pork and lamb steaks, roasts and chops are safe up to five days in the refrigerator.
For longer freezer storage, wrap meat or poultry packages in heavy duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer bags. Label and freeze at 0° F.
Meat and poultry will be safe indefinitely if kept frozen at 0° F, but will lose quality over time. Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart
On The Grill
Use two sets of platters and utensils: one for the raw meat, one for the cooked. Otherwise, harmful bacteria from the raw food can contaminate the cooked food.
Use a meat thermomeer to make sure meats have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Safe Cooking Temperatures
Don’t partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later, this promotes bacterial growth.
After grilling meat or poultry, keep it hot until served — 140° F or warmer. Cooked meats can be kept hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, in an oven set to approximately 200° F, in a chafing dish or slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly (within two hours; one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F). Properly refrigerated, they are safe to eat for about three or four days. If frozen, they should keep good quality for up to four months.
If you have further questions, contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free)