The summer is upon us and like many, I rather spend my time outdoors than in. This includes spending family meal times outside, with friends and relatives, enjoying the nice weather and one another's company. With that said, like many out there, there will be a lot of meat handling, and since we will not be cooking in our oven, as to avoid bringing the temperature inside the house up, I want to ensure the foods we serve are cooked through, and that we do not accidentally make anyone sick.
When it comes to cooking foods properly, nearly 64% of families do not use a food thermometer to check meats and poultry regularly, and when it comes to food prep, 33% do not use freshly cleaned cutting boards to prevent cross contamination or meats and produce, which can result in causing illness.
Recently, I was given some great steps from the USDA, to share with my readers for all of those 4th of July cookouts and any other summer cookouts! You can find the 4 steps to food safety in the infographic below.
The tips above are ones that everyone should take, and to add to it, one thing that myself and others in my house use when it comes to handling foods like raw meats, is not only to wash hands, and anything that gets touched, but to also wear gloves while preparing the foods, as to ensure we do not contaminate any other foods or surfaces during the food prep process.
We also have steps that we take when we are prepping foods for our cookouts. Like not prepping the meats for the grill at the same time that we prep the other foods, like potato salad, fruit salads, and dips for the chip. I also put out trays, ones to put the raw meats on that we take out to the grill, then separate ones that I will take out to put the cooked foods on for serving. I keep these trays separate, so that they do not touch at any point, and once we have taken the meats off of the raw meats trays, I take them in to wash right away.
When it comes to the cooking, we always use a meat thermometer, and ensure that the different kinds of meat are cooked properly, as marked on the meat thermometer. Also, when it comes to using a meat thermometer, in order to cook meats properly, do not take a reading that is touching the bone, like when cooking ribs, and do not push all the way through the meats, instead, push about halfway through, so that you get a proper meat temperature reading from the middle of the meats. If you are unsure of what temps are the right ones when it comes to cooking meats, you can find a food temperature chart here. Remember, just because the outside may look cooked, it does not mean that the inside is cooked through, so always check your meats!
Then, when it comes to storing the meats and such, we always ensure that they are cooled, and not left out for more than two hours, so they do not begin to spoil. Remember, with the warmer weather upon us, bacteria can spread a lot quicker, so always be sure to wash hands and surfaces when handling foods, and enjoy your fourth of July and any other summer cookouts you might have!
- Visit FoodSafety.gov to learn about best food safety practices, utilize “Ask Karen,” an online database with nearly 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses, in both English and Spanish, or to call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.
- Link: Check out USDA’s tips for Safe Grilling
This post was made possible through the support of USDA. All opinions are my own.