The backyard grill is a great place for gathering family and friends for simple meals, but food safety needs to be considered during the warm summer months. The higher temperatures and humidity are perfect environments for rapid bacterial growth that can cause foodborne illness.
Here are some safety tips to keep everyone safe:
- Never reuse utensils or plates that have touched raw foods. Thoroughly clean utensils or use new ones after touching raw products, such as tongs or spatulas.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator and do not reuse the marinade to brush on food while it is grilling. Reserve some of the fresh marinade in a separate container in the refrigerator to be used for glazing during the cooking process, and make sure to use a basting brush that was not used on raw product.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It is better to cook hot foods in batches so quantities of burgers, hot dogs and chicken are not left sitting out for long periods of time. Cold foods should be kept in coolers or on ice and covered loosely to avoid contact with insects. For large crowds and picnics, have shallow totes or baby pools filled with ice available for guests to place their dishes in and replenish ice as it melts.
- Two hours is the rule for food safety. Items should be refrigerated within 2 hours of preparation or discarded, especially if they have not been maintained at the proper temperatures. Cold foods should remain at or below 41 degrees and hot food should be at or above 140 degrees.
- Make sure to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before cutting, especially if being served raw. Knives can drag surface dirt and pathogens into the interior of fruits and vegetables, increasing the risk of bacterial growth.
- Have a hand washing station or hand sanitizer available for guests to use prior to eating. Provide soap and paper towels for quick clean up.
Learn more about food safety here.
Alison Manger-Weikel, R.D., L.D.N. is the director of Food, Environmental and Transportation Services at Carroll Hospital Center.