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Summer officially begins with Memorial Day and that means lot of grilling. We’ve collaborated with NSF International – a nonprofit organization committed to protecting public health and safety – to come up with the top six tips for safe summer grilling. Whether you are grilling novice or a grill master, we hope you’ll find these tips helpful for keeping your grilling fun and safe this summer.

  1. Start with a Clean Kitchen: According to a swab analysis by  NSF International, the kitchen sponge and kitchen sink were the germiest places in the home. This is because they’re generally used throughout the cooking and cleaning process, but you can avoid cross-contamination by making sure they’re clean.  To clean your sponge, wet it and microwave it on high for one or two minutes before using it.  It’s especially important to do this after working with a contaminated surface.  You can also wash them in the dishwasher.  Replace sponges often or use a disposable product like paper towels when dealing with meat.  Disinfect your kitchen sink, including facet and handles several times a day and always after handling meat and before moving on to other ingredients.  Use non-bleach disinfecting alternatives that are safer for you and the environment but just as effective.
  2. Defrost Foods Safely. NEVER leave food out on the counter to defrost and don’t put it in the sink in cold water.  To SAFELY defrost food, put it on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator (if it leaks, contaminates will not ruin food beneath it) or defrost the item in the microwave. Or cook from the froze state, but it will generally add 50% more time than fresh meat or poultry.
  3. Practice Proper Marinating. Marinate in the refrigerator and dispose of any leftover marinade.  Boiling a marinade will not kill all the bacteria present.  Make and extra cup of marinade and reserve it BEFORE marinating the meat to use as a serving sauce if desired.
  4. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold Hot foods need to be kept at temperatures above 140 F and cold foods less than 40 F. Between these two temperatures, bacteria can multiply very rapidly and reach dangerous levels in as little as two hours.
    USDA Recommended Safe
    Minimum Internal Temperatures

    • Steaks & Roasts – 145 °F
    • Fish – 145 °F
    • Pork – 160 °F
    • Ground Beef – 160 °F
    • Egg Dishes – 160 °F
    • Chicken Breasts – 165 °F
    • Whole Poultry – 165 °
  5. Don’t cook with your eyes; Cook with a thermometer. Use a thermometer to determine if your meat is safely cooked – don’t rely on your eyes only.   Meat and/or grilling thermometers are inexpensive but can prevent food-borne illnesses when used properly. Any leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours (one hour if the temperature is over 90° F).
  6. Avoid Cross Contamination. Since bacteria can easily spread from one food to the next via dripping juices, hands, or utensils, think ahead to avoid cross contamination.  Immediately disinfect any area touched by meat or contaminated hands or utensils.  NEVER use the same utensils and dishes for raw and cooked food without a thorough washing with soap and water and always wash your hands before preparing and consuming food.

Simple steps to keep bacterial illnesses at bay can make for a healthier and happier summer!