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Simple steps to safe grilling



Summer and grilling go hand-in-hand. But summer is also a prime time for food poisoning – the bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses to multiply faster in warm weather and cooking outdoors, poses more challenges for handling food safely.

One of the most efficient ways to protect people from food poisoning, health experts advise, is to keep raw and cooked foods separate.

“While prepping for your backyard barbecue, it’s important to keep your cold food cold and your your hot food hot,” said Taylor Mattson, registered dietitian. “Undercooked meat and poultry can carry a variety of foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Eliminate the guesswork, by using a food thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked all the way through.”

To protect hungry guests from a nasty bout of food poisoning, Mattson offers the following steps when firing up the grill:

• Start with a clean grill. Always remove charred food from the grill before cooking. This reduces the risk that fresh foods will be exposed to bacteria.

• Refrigerate. Keep meat, poultry and fish in the fridge until ready to grill. Then only take out what will be cooked right away.

• Separate. Don’t use the same platter, cutting board or utensils, for raw and cooked foods. For example, use one plate for bringing raw meat, poultry or fish to the grill, and a different one for taking cooked food off the grill. That way, bacteria in raw food and its juices can’t contaminate cooked food.

• Use a food thermometer. This handy kitchen gadget will ensure meat, poultry and fish is cooked to a safe internal temperature that is hot enough to kill harmful bacteria.

• Mind the marinade. Marinades are a good way to flavor raw meats, fish and poultry. It may be tempting to use leftover marinade on food after it has been cooked, but it can be risky. Bring the marinate up to a boil to kill any harmful bacteria before re-using it.

• Don’t make dish towels do double-duty. Using the same hand towel several times to clean hands and spills on the grill can spread germs. Use paper towels or disposable wipes instead. Reach for a dish towel only if drying clean dishes or wiping hands after washing them.

As a guide, beef, lamb and fish should be cooked at 145 degrees, while amburgers and other ground beef need to be cooked at 160 degrees. Poultry should be cooked at 165 degrees.