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July is National Grilling Month: 4 Tips for Grilling Safely

July 4, 2011

With summer in full swing, it seems appropriate that July is “National Grilling Month.” And in celebration, we liked to share some safe grilling tips to ensure you and your family enjoy the summer grilling season safely.

After all, food poisoning leads to an astounding 300,000 hospitalizations and around 5,000 deaths each year, many in the summer months where the increased temperatures allow bacteria to grow at faster rates, increasing the chance of getting ill.

So take the necessary precautions to ensure you don’t become one of those statistics. Here are five barbeque basics that can help reduce your risk of getting a foodborne illness.

1. WASH YOUR HANDS

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any food to ensure your mittens are germ free and to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. By following this one rule you can dramatically reduce your risk of foodborne illness.

Don’t have a source of clean water available where you’re eating? Bring along some hand sanitizer or wipes. It’s just that simple.

2. KEEP IT COOL

Don’t take out food that needs to be refrigerated only to sit for an hour after you’re done prepping other items. Keep perishable foods in the refrigerator until the very minute you need to use them. By doing so, you’ll keep bacteria growth at bay and prevent potential illness.

3. RAW AND COOKED FOODS DON’T MIX

At a family picnic or pool-side grilling party it’s all about being together with those you care about. But two things that should ALWAYS be separated are raw and cooked foods. Cross-contamination is a big culprit in foodborne illness so be sure to keep raw foods away from cooked and prepared food sources.

Do this by keeping raw meat, poultry, and seafood in separate containers and by using separate cooking utensils for raw and prepared foods. Also, avoid serving foods on plates or dishes that had raw food on it at any time. Instead, have a separate clean plate and utensils for foods that are ready to be served.

4. KEEP TEMPERATURES IN CHECK

While you can’t control those hot summer temperatures, one climate you can control is the climate that you’re food is contained in. As a general rule, remember to keep cold foods below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and hot foods above 140 degrees Fahrenheit until served.

To ensure these temperatures are met be sure to use a thermometer, have plenty of ice and a cooler to place cold items in as well as aluminum foil wraps and insulated containers for warm foods.

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