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Nutrition Tip of the Week

Safe Summer BBQ’s Tips
by Samantha McCarthy, Registered Dietitian

Outdoor dining like summer BBQ’s, parties, etc. are a staple of every summer, but it also presents an opportunity for unsafe food practices. The high heat and long times that food can sit out in the sun present a high risk for food-borne illness. Properly cooking and storing your food outdoors is extremely important to fight off any unpleasant food poisoning. Follow the tips below to make sure you stay free of any unwanted sickness this summer.


Shopping for Foods

When choosing items at the grocery store, be sure to check the “sell by” date on meats and pre-made salads. Check the package for any holes or torn packaging where bacteria can slip in. Pick out frozen and refrigerated items last so they stay cold longer. Be sure to go right home after grocery shopping so foods don’t sit in a hot car


Storing Foods

If you are hosting or at an event, make sure all perishable food is refrigerated within 2 hours of being out. If it’s a sunny, 90-degree day, play it safe and refrigerate foods before an hour. Check your freezer, refrigerator, and coolers to make sure they are cooling at the appropriate temperature. A freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 40 degrees for a refrigerator.


Thawing Frozen Foods

If you are thawing meats, the best way to do it is in the refrigerator. Take out the meat 1 day before cooking to allow it to thaw in a safe way. Never leave meats out on the counter to thaw as this can expose the meat to unsafe temperatures where bacteria thrive. You can also run it under cold tap water until thawed.


Food Preparation

Be careful of cross-contamination: don’t wash your meats. It’s unnecessary and increases your risk of getting sick. Use separate utensils, knives, cutting boards, and plates for raw meat and fresh produce. Never use the same plate for raw items going to the grill and fully-cooked grilled meats. Be sure to wash and sanitize counter top after handling raw meats


Proper Temperatures

Here is a list of the safe temperatures to cook meats to:

Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb, ground             160 °F

Steak, chops, and roasts                            145 °F

Chicken & Turkey Breasts                          165 °F

Whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings          165 °F

Fish & Shellfish                                            145 °F

Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)           145 °F

Fully cooked ham (to reheat)                     140 °F


Remember to keep hot foods hot by using a warmer on a buffet line. Keep cold foods cold by placing them in a cooler or on ice when serving. Following safe food practices will help prevent you, your family, and your guests from getting any unwanted food-borne illnesses. 



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