People everywhere are preparing for a weekend filled with Labor Day barbecues. Before you fire up the grill, beef up your food safety with these helpful, hot-off-the-grill tips.
Before you turn up the gas or rake the coals, make sure your grill is clean by scrubbing it with hot, soapy water before each and every use.
According to a survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 23 percent of Americans use a food thermometer to check the doneness of their grilled favorites! Cooking to proper internal temperatures and using a food thermometer to check ensures the taste and safety of your foods.
Always marinate meat in the refrigerator (never on the counter or outside by the grill), and bring leftover sauces to a boil before reusing them on cooked meats to prevent cross-contamination. Or better yet, make a double batch of your marinade and save half for serving time.
The survey also found that 77 percent of Americans use different cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods, but only 9 percent always or usually wash utensils before using them for cooked foods. Wash all utensils in hot, soapy water between uses, or use color-coded sets to keep from touching raw meats and ready-to-eat foods with the same utensils.
Twenty one percent of the people surveyed believe picnic foods can sit out in summer heat for more than two hours without refrigeration. In temperatures of 90°F or more, the "two-hour rule" becomes the "one-hour rule." Keep perishable foods on ice to make sure they stay properly chilled or serve perishable food items in one-hour shifts. After each shift, place uneaten food back in a refrigerator set below 40°F.
Grilled foods have a refrigerator life of only three to four days, but many keep leftovers for up to a week or longer. Keeping grilled foods for too long can affect both taste and quality. Make sure your grilled leftovers are as safe by refrigerating foods in shallow containers (no more than 3-inches deep) and writing the date on top to help you keep track. Also be sure always use a food thermometer to check that leftovers have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.