Cooking outdoors was once only a summer activity shared with family and friends. Now it’s a year round event.
However, food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish.
To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical.
From the Store
When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart. To guard against cross-contamination — which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food — put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.
Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
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At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
Food Safety Steps: Separate – Chill – Clean – Cook
Hands. Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
Grill and tools. Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
- 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
- 145°F – fish
- 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
- Smoking: 250°F – 300°F – inside smoke
- After Grilling: 140°F or warmer – until it’s served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put food in freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).
National Fire Protection Association Grilling Safety Tips
This grilling season, the NFPA demonstrates the proper way to use your grill safely to prevent fires.
Additional BBQ Food Safety Resources
- FoodSafety.gov – BBQ+A: Answers to Your Most Common Barbeque Questions
- FoodKeeper App
- FoodSafety.gov – Grilling Food Safety 101
- CDC – BBQ IQ — Get Smart. Grill Safely.
- CDC Grilling Food Safety Infographic (PDF)