Outdoor grilling for friends and family can be a great summer activity if the proper safety measures are taken. Because of the dangers of harmful bacteria, proper cooking and preparation techniques must be observed.
Follow these guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to keep safe when grilling:
Meat and poultry must be refrigerated immediately after purchase. Placing meat and poultry in the freezer is the best option if it won’t be cooked for one or two days after purchase.
After properly thawing, marinating may be desired. It’s important to keep the marinade used for the cooked food separate from uncooked foods. This will prevent harmful bacteria from being transported to the meat that is to be consumed. To avoid this, make sure to boil the marinade that has been in contact with the raw meat or poultry.
Once the food is ready for grilling, make sure to use clean utensils when handling the meat or poultry. To ensure the food is cooked thoroughly, use to a thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the meat or poultry. The following are the safe minimum internal temperatures:
- Whole poultry: 165 F
- Poultry breasts: 165 F
- Ground poultry: 165 F
- Hamburgers or beef: 160 F
- All cuts of pork: 160 F
When the food is finally ready, never allow it to sit out for more than 1 hour in weather above 90 F. Also when packing up leftovers, make sure to store them in shallow containers and discard any food that is left out for more than 2 hours. If the food has set out for more than 1 hour in weather above 90 F, discard it.
These grilling safety tips will help prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illnesses.
For more tips on grilling safety, call the USDA hotline at 1-888-674-6854 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.
To learn more about food and health programs in your county, contact your local WVU Extension county office.
Last Reviewed: May 2022