As warm weather approaches, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reminds the public to keep food safety in mind when grilling outdoors.
“This Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, play it safe when grilling outdoors,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Food safety is just as important when you’re cooking outside as it is when you’re cooking inside. Following a few simple steps can help ensure the success of your barbecues and picnics.”
Food safety tips for grilling this summer:
· Wash hands - Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and dry your hands with a paper towel following restroom use, before preparing foods, after handling raw meat or before eating. Be sure to wash hands thoroughly after handling raw meat products and before handling other foods. Clean hands will help prevent the spread of potentially illness-causing microorganisms.
· Clean - Wash food-contact surfaces often with warm soapy water. Bacteria can spread and get onto cutting boards, knives and counter tops. Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing.
· Separate utensils - Be sure to use separate plates and utensils for cooked and uncooked foods. Bacteria from uncooked meats and poultry can be dangerous if they contaminate cooked food. Don’t reuse marinade – discard after food is removed for cooking. If basting is required, use a freshly prepared marinade.
· Take temperatures - Cook food thoroughly. The most common minimum internal cooking temperatures are 158 degrees Fahrenheit for hamburgers, 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks and ribs, and 165 degrees Fahrenheit for poultry. Be sure to use a food thermometer to check temperatures.
· Keep it cold (or hot) - Keep cold food refrigerated until it is ready to be placed on the grill. Consume immediately or hold hot on the grill. Do not hold cooked foods at room temperature. Cooked, hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Cold foods should be kept below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
For more information and free literature about food safety, contact the DPH Food Protection Program at (860) 509-7297 or visit them online at www.ct.gov/dph/foodprotection.