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Categories > Diet and Nutrition > Food safety

Fire up the grill!

For many people, summertime fare means fresh, fast, no-fuss meals cooked outdoors. However, barbecuing and dining al fresco can have their risks. Warm temperatures can set the stage for a nasty bout of food poisoning. Take these precautions to make sure your meals are delicious and safe:

  • Defrost thoroughly. Place frozen foods in the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing. If meats are out too long, bacteria can produce illness-causing toxins that remain active even during cooking.
  • Marinate right. Keep foods refrigerated while marinating. For best tenderizing and flavor, marinate foods for at least 30 minutes. Set aside some marinade that has not come in contact with raw food for dipping or basting.
  • Transport safely. When traveling, use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or cold packs to maintain a temperature of at least 40 degrees F. Pack the cooler last in the coolest part of the car—not the trunk. When you arrive at your destination, move the cooler into the shade, avoid opening it frequently and replenish ice. Use a separate cooler for beverages and foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Bring extra plates and tools. Use one platter and spatula, tongs and sauce brush for raw foods and a different platter and utensils for cooked foods. Don’t use a fork to turn meats since puncturing can introduce surface bacteria into the meat.
  • Keep clean. Bring paper towels and disposable wipes or a sanitizing gel for convenient hand washing and surface cleanup.
  • Prepare the grill. Light the coals and allow the cooking surface to heat up to kill microorganisms before putting on the food.
  • Cook meat thoroughly. Don’t rely on your eyes to check for doneness. Sauces and spices can make meat appear cooked when it’s not, and hamburger meat often browns before reaching a safe internal temperature.