While you might suspect Ehrlich to talk about ants at your picnic, we’d like to spend some time discussing how you can keep some other bugs – dangerous pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, and more – from invading your holiday cook out this season.
Pathogens can be present in raw poultry, meats, and seafood. While thorough cooking will kill the pathogens, contamination sometimes happens when people handling raw meats inadvertently transfer the bacteria to “clean” surfaces (counters, plates, utensils, etc.) or other foods. Bacteria can also grow rapidly when cold or hot foods go out of temperature range for too long.
While grilling out and having fun with family and friends, there’s potential to overlook important food safety steps that prevent these things from happening. Keep these pointers from the food safety experts at Steritech in mind while preparing for your summer cookouts:
- Plan ahead! Hand washing is an important step that should never be overlooked. Take water, soap, and paper towels with you if access to a bathroom will be limited. While washing your hands is the best way to prevent spreading pathogens, using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a next-best option.
- Always wash your hands after handling raw meats and after using the restroom. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water!
- Hot foods should be eaten within two hours of being prepared.
- Cold foods should be kept on ice and in a cooler – and remember to replenish ice frequently. Cold foods should not sit out for more than two hours. If it’s extremely hot outside, that two-hour window should be reduced to one hour.
- Never use the same plate or cutting board for raw and cooked products.
- Use separate tongs/spatulas for raw or and cooked items.
- Always cook meats, poultry, seafood, hot dogs and sausages to safe minimum internal temperatures, listed below. Always use a meat thermometer – don’t guess or go by “color” to gauge whether or not the food is cooked.
- Keep foods covered to protect them from contamination by pests. Flies, ants, and other pests can also spread pathogens to foods. In addition, stinging insects such as wasps and bees can be attracted to uncovered foods, putting people at your event at risk for being stung.
SAFE INTERNAL TEMPERATURES FOR MEATS
Remember to use a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest portion of the cut.
- Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb) 160°F
- Ground poultry (turkey, chicken) 165°F
- Poultry breasts 165°F
- Whole poultry 165°F
- Steaks, roasts, chops 145°F (beef, pork, lamb & veal – allow 3 minute rest)
- Fish and seafood 145°F
- Fully cooked hot dogs, sausage and brats 140°F
- Raw sausages and brats 160°F
• US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service
• US Food and Drug Administration