Food Safety Tips

Always use a food thermometer when grilling outside.

  • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill tend to brown quickly on the outside but may not be fully cooked on the inside. NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later. Color is never a reliable indicator of safety and doneness. Use a food thermometer to ensure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
    • Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to 145 F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 F.
    • Cook egg dishes to 160 F.
    • Cook fish to 145 F.
    • Cook raw poultry, including ground poultry, to 165 F.
  • To correctly take the temperature of ground beef or poultry burgers, insert the food thermometer through the side of the patty, until the probe reaches the center to detect cold spots. The thermometer should read 160 F. Ground poultry burgers should read 165 F.

Be sure to cook mechanically tenderized meat properly.

  • Chefs enjoy using tenderizers to get the most flavor out of their meal. However, mechanically tenderized beef, including cuts that are prepackaged in marinades, should be cooked thoroughly.
    • If the outside of the meat contains bacteria, it will be transferred to the inside of the meat during mechanical tenderization, requiring it to be cooked to kill the germs. The best way to ensure a worry-free barbecue is to thoroughly cook mechanically tenderized meat. Use your food thermometer and follow USDA’s recommendations for safe internal temperatures.

Foodborne illness rates increase during the summer.

  • Natural causes: Germs are present throughout the environment in soil, air, water and in our bodies. These microorganisms grow faster during the summer months because of the warmer and more humid weather.
  • Outside activities increase during the summer: Although summer may look different this year, people still like to go outside to enjoy warmer weather. They may be cooking or eating outside, away from items in the kitchen that help us stay safe and clean, like sinks. Given these circumstances, harmful germs have many opportunities to quickly multiply on food and make people sick.

Remember your four steps to food safety. 

  • Clean: If you’re grilling and eating outdoors, find out if there is a source of clean water. If not, bring water for food preparation and cleaning or pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  • Cook: Confirm foods are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Separate: Keep raw meats separate from other foods, like fruits and vegetables, to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Chill: Ensure your cooler is fully stocked with ice or frozen gel packs to help to keep perishable foods cold. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler.
    • The beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside of the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods.
    • When taking perishable foods in the car, keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car. Once outside, place it in the shade or out of the sun whenever possible.

Keep your food out of the Danger Zone.

  • Follow the two-hour rule: bacteria grow rapidly between 40 F and 140 F. That temperature range is what is known as the Danger Zone. When serving food, it is important to remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
    • Keep cold foods at an internal temperature of 40 F or below by keeping food on ice or refrigerated until ready to serve.
    • Keep hot foods at an internal temperature of 140 F or above by placing food in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes or slow cookers.
  • Dividing leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerating or freezing them in shallow containers helps leftovers cool quicker than storing them in large containers.
  • Quicker cooling helps prevent foods from entering the Danger Zone between 40 F and 140 F. Recent USDA research found that only half of study participants reported that they refrigerate large amounts of leftovers in multiple small containers.