Summertime is here, and it's the perfect season to grill. When you think of grilling, you think of family gatherings, cookouts, burgers, ribs, kabobs and hot dogs. Even though grilling may be fun, this cooking method can harbor harmful bacteria hazards, according to Teresa Henson, Extension specialist-program outreach coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
To avoid such risks, it is essential to follow safe grilling guidelines to serve food safely, Henson said. According to FoodSafety.gov, the following practices are recommended.
• Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. Wash surfaces, utensils and the grill before and after cooking.
• Check and clean the grill and equipment. Make sure to use a damp cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, inspect the grill surface before cooking. Make sure there are no wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes.
• Keep meat, poultry and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill.
• As soon as you put raw items on the grill, get a clean plate or serving dish ready for when the items are done. It is imperative to keep your raw meat, poultry and seafood items separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as salads, dips and even fruits and vegetables you plan on grilling.
• When grilling, use a food thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked at the proper temperature.
• Safe internal temperatures vary depending on the product you're cooking, so here are the safe minimum cooking temperatures you need to know while grilling:
• Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F (with a 3-minute rest time)
• Ground meats (including burgers and hot dogs): 160°F
• Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F
• Fish: 145°F
When you are done grilling, make sure to store the remaining leftovers in shallow containers and put them in the fridge within two hours of cooking to avoid food-borne illness, Henson said.
Below is a tasty, healthy grilled fruit recipe to try.
Grilled Fruit Kabobs
Makes 3 servings
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 peach (cubed)
1 banana (sliced)
Wash hands with soap and water.
Place fruit chunks on a skewer to make kabobs.
Grill or broil on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.
Note: If using wooden skewers, thoroughly soak skewers in water before using them to prevent burning (approximately 30 minutes).
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Sources: https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/how-grill-safely-summer, https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking-temperature and https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-education/healthy-thrifty-holiday-menus/labor-day#recipe-1933