September 24, 2021

Is It Safe to Partially Cook Meat and Poultry Ahead of Time?

Labor Day is the last big grilling holiday of the summer season. Most Americans love to grill, and cook out whether at home or in a park. Grilling food safety tips are important for every person to know. But there’s one question that is not often answered: Is it safe to partially cook meat and poultry ahead of time?

Is It Safe to Partially Cook Meat and Poultry Ahead of Time?

Most people love to be able to prepare many foods ahead of time when they are entertaining. Salads, desserts, and side dishes are all easy to prepare ahead. But what about meats?

While you can cut meat into serving sizes and marinate meats for added flavor and tenderness, you should never partially cook meat or poultry ahead of time to finish later, according to the CDC. This is not widely known and this fact is not often included in FDA or USDA grilling tips.

The USDA states, “Never brown or partially cook meat or poultry to refrigerate and finish later because any bacteria present would not have been destroyed. It is safe to partially cook meat and poultry in the microwave or on the stove only if the food is transferred immediately to the hot grill to finish cooking.”

In fact, when you partially cook meat or poultry and then hold it at room temperature or even in the refrigerator, the meat goes through the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F too many times. Bacteria grow rapidly in that temperature range. And many bacteria can produce toxins as they grow that are not destroyed by heat.

You can thaw meat and poultry in the microwave oven, but it must be cooked immediately because some areas of the food can become warm and start to cook, but not get hot enough to destroy pathogens. Again, do not partially cook meat or poultry and hold it for later cooking or grilling.

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