It’s national grilling month, and as temperatures are hotter, there’s nothing like outdoor grilling and soaking up the sunshine!
Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish. Follow these steps for a safe and enjoyable grilling season.
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.
- Learn about cross contamination, cold and hot food safety, best practices for personal hygiene, and foodborne illnesses.
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Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep below 40°F in an insulated cooler.
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.
- Check your 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.
- Don’t cross-contaminate
Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
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
- 250°F – 300°F – inside smoke
- 140°F or warmer – until it’s served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).
This grilling season, NFPA tests your knowledge and demonstrates the proper way to use your grill safely to prevent fires.
- Grill it Safe When Cooking Outdoors E-Card (Aug 2013; PDF)
- Grill it Safe Card (PDF) | Side 1, JPG | Side 2, JPG
- En Español: Side 1, JPG | Side 2, JPG
- Four Steps to Food Safety from our Founding Fathers (Flickr)
Here are some more food safety resources that can help you plan your next picnic, cookout, or other summer outing.
- Barbecue and Food Safety | PDF | En Español | En Español PDF
- Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook (PDF, Single Page, 3.3mb) | PDF, Facing Pages (2.8mb) | Alternate Text-Only Version
- Is It Done Yet? | PDF | En Español
- Tailgating Food Safety Q & A | PDF
- More Seasonal Fact Sheets
Videos & Video News Releases
- USDA Tips for Safe Summer/July 4 Grilling (Jun 26, 2012)
- USDA Joins Grill Sergeants For Safe BBQ Advice (May 22, 2012; YouTube)
- Safe Summer Grilling (Jul 2010; WMV) | En Español | ASL
- Visit Us on YouTube
USDA News Releases
- Declare Independence from Foodborne Illness this Fourth of July (Jun 27, 2012)
- USDA Wants Families to “Grill It Safe” This Memorial Day Weekend (May 24, 2012)
- Score a Food Safety Touchdown at Your Super Bowl XLVI Party (Feb 1, 2012)
- Begin the Summertime Grilling Season with a Food Safety Home Run (May 26, 2011)
- USDA: Referee a Safe Super Bowl Party (Jan 27, 2011)
- Four Food Safety Tips for the Fourth! How to Protect Your Family from a Surprising July 4th Danger (Jul 2, 2012)
- Don’t Get Burned by Foodborne Illness this Memorial Day (May 26, 2012)
- Grilling Food Safety 101 (FoodSafety.gov) (May 21, 2012)
- Follow FSIS on Twitter | En Español