July 29, 2021

Little Known Safe Grilling Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness

When it comes to summer grilling, we are bombarded with information about how to keep the food you are cooking safe. Everyone knows (or should know) about safe final internal temperatures, to wash your hands before cooking and after handling raw meats, and to follow expiration dates on these products. But there are little known safe grilling tips to prevent illness.

Little Known Safe Grilling Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness

For instance, did you know that you can get sick if you don’t handle marinades properly?  Any marinade that has come into contact with raw meat will instantly become contaminated with pathogens. Vinegar or lemon juice in marinade will not kill these pathogens. So if you are using a marinade, handle it carefully. If you want to use some for dipping or to marinate vegetables, make the marinade, reserve some in another bowl before you put meat or poultry in it.

There are other dangers with marinades too. Any leftover marinade should be discarded, or you can bring it to a vigorous boil for a few minutes before using it again. Finally, if you are using uncooked marinade to baste the meat as it grills, make sure that you cook the meat for a couple of minutes after you baste for the last time. This is called “cooking off” the marinade.

When you are bringing meat out to the grill to cook, make sure you bring another clean plate. Grilled meat should never be put onto a plate that held the uncooked beef, pork, veal, or poultry or it can be re-contaminated. Put cooked meat onto a clean plate every time.

When you use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat or poultry you are cooking, you should clean the probe after every check. If the  meat isn’t at a safe final temperature, pathogens in the center of the meat could still be alive, especially with poultry and ground meat, and the probe could pick them up. Wash the thermometer probe with soap and water after every check, in addition to after every use.

Finally, remember the two hour safety rule. All perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours of coming off the grill or out of the fridge. This time shrinks to 1 hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F, since the hot temp will make bacteria grow faster.

Now that you know these little known safe grilling tips, you can have a fun summer without worrying about foodborne illness.

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