Everyone hates a germophobe; I promise I am not that guy. However, I am the family member or friend that occasionally says, “don’t put the cooked food in the raw food container”, or “ this has been sitting out too long”. Working with food-borne bacteria on a daily basis allows me to see what conditions they grow and/or survive. Most of us do not consider that when we are preparing food, we follow cooking and storage patterns based on cultural and family traditions. Although some may have factual implications, many of these traditions aren’t always the safest option. So with the weather heating up and with grills coming out its just a few things you should know to enjoy the cookouts without stomach aches the next day.
Things to bring to the cookout:
Plenty of ice
Chafing set with warmers
Plenty of utensils
START CLEAN and don’t cross contaminate
I mean this one is self-explanatory: wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. If you are cooking out in a park where you can’t, be sure to bring sanitizing wipes.
Cooking your meats- What temps?
Lets be honest, many of us use the eye test to determine when our food is done. Food color, is not an accurate indicator of the internal temperature- safety of the meat. Meat on the grill typically browns before the center. However, even the browning of the center can be an inaccurate indicator. Numerous studies show that some hamburgers brown before reaching the safe internal temperature. Use a thermometer. The FDA has these recommendations for cooking temperatures:
Ground meat- 160 °F
Beef, Pork, Veal, and Lamb (chops, roasts, and steaks) – 145 °F with 3-minute rest
Poultry (ground, parts, whole, and stuffing) 165 °F
How long has that been out?
On many food safety websites you will see the term “danger zone” or “danger zone temperatures”. It’s the temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow and potentially spoil food. Consumers assume that if the food was cooked the bacteria is gone forever, but that is not the case. Often times cooking kills the active bacteria, however, leaving food in the danger zone for longer than two hours can allow bacteria to grow and spores to activate. The danger zone temperature is between 40 degrees °F and 140 °F. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends not exceeding two hours in the danger zone temperatures, one hour when external weather conditions are> 90°F. You can avoid the danger zone by refrigerating cold food quickly and keeping hot foods hot with chafing sets and slow cookers. When grilling you can put meat on the rack near the grill to keep temperature above danger zone.
With all of this in mind you should be able to enjoy your family and while also being safe!
Have fun and happy grillin' !