It’s summer! Summer often brings picnics, barbecues, and packing food to take on the go. It is important to take proper food safety steps when transporting food and cooking outdoors. The FDA offers the following tips:
- Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer.
- Organize cooler contents. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
- Keep coolers closed. Once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold longer.
- Don’t cross-contaminate. Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler – including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetablesunder running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
— Packaged fruits and vegetables that are labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed” need not be washed.
Cooking on the grill brings another set of important safety steps:
- Marinate safely. Marinate foods in the refrigerator – never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
- Cook immediately after “partial cooking.” If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
- Cook food thoroughly. When it’s time to cook the food, have your food thermometer ready. Always use it to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly.
- Keep “ready” food hot. Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.
- Don’t reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
Check for foreign objects in food. If you clean your grill using a bristle brush, check to make sure that no detached bristles have made their way into grilled food.
The National Fire Protection Association offers some great tips on grill safety to protect yourself and your family from burns or grill related accidents. Chick here to find out more.
Now it’s time to test your grilling skills! Give Grilled Beef and Veggies a try and let me know how it goes. Don’t have a grill? This recipe can be adapted to cook in your oven on 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Enjoy!
Click on the recipe card for a printable version.
Categories: Cooking Skills