From the store: home first
When shopping, buy
cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout.
Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart.
To guard against cross-contamination ó which can happen when raw
meat or poultry juices drip on other food ó put packages of raw meat
and poultry into plastic bags.
Load meat and poultry
into the coolest part of the car and take the groceries straight
home. In the summer, if home is more than a 30-minute drive away,
bring a cooler with ice and place perishable food in it for the
At home, place meat
and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and
ground meat that wonít be used in one or two days; freeze other meat
within four to five days.
meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the
refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold
water. You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed
immediately on the grill.
Meat and poultry can
be marinated for several hours or days to tenderize or add flavor.
Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If some of
the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a
portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it.
However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be
reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any
When carrying food to
another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an
insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food
at 40 F or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the
cooler immediately before leaving home. Keep the cooler in the
coolest part of the car.
Keep cold food cold
Keep meat and poultry
refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out the meat and poultry
that will immediately be placed on the grill.
When using a cooler,
keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm
air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate
Keep everything clean
Be sure there are
plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent food-borne
illness, donít use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked
meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry
and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
If youíre eating away
from home, find out if thereís a source of clean water. If not,
bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths, and
wet towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
partially in the microwave, oven or stove is a good way of reducing
grilling time. Just make sure that the food goes immediately on the
preheated grill to complete cooking.
Cook food to a safe
internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry
cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food
thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal
temperature. Whole poultry should reach 180 F; breasts, 170 F.
Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 F; ground poultry,
165 F. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to
145 F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 F.
NEVER partially grill
meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
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When reheating fully
cooked meats like hot dogs, grill to 165 F or until steaming hot.
Keep hot food hot
After cooking meat
and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served ó at 140 F or
Keep cooked meats hot
by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the
coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be
kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200 F), in a chafing dish or
slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Serving the food
When taking food off
the grill, use a clean platter. Donít put cooked food on the same
platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present
in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
In hot weather (90 F
and above), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out
more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 F).
Smoking is cooking
food indirectly in the presence of a fire. It can be done in
a covered grill if a pan of water is placed beneath the meat on the
grill; and meats can be smoked in a "smoker," which is an outdoor
cooker especially designed for smoking foods. Smoking is done much
more slowly than grilling, so less tender meats benefit from this
method, and a natural smoke flavoring permeates the meat. The
temperature in the smoker should be maintained at 250 to 300 F for
Use a food
thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal
Pit roasting is
cooking meat in a large, level hole dug in the earth. A hardwood
fire is built in the pit, requiring wood equal to about 2Ĺ times the
volume of the pit. The hardwood is allowed to burn until the wood
reduces and the pit is half filled with burning coals. This can
require four to six hours of burning time.
Cooking may require
10 to 12 hours or more and is difficult to estimate. A meat
thermometer must be used to determine the meatís safety and
doneness. There are many variables such as outdoor temperature,
the size and thickness of the meat, and how fast the coals are
Does grilling pose a cancer risk?
Some studies suggest
there may be a cancer risk related to eating food cooked by
high-heat cooking techniques as grilling, frying, and broiling.
Based on present research findings, eating moderate amounts of
grilled meats like fish, meat, and poultry cooked ó without
charring ó to a safe temperature does not pose a problem.
To prevent charring,
remove visible fat that can cause a flare-up. Precook meat in the
microwave immediately before placing it on the grill to release some
of the juices that can drop on coals. Cook food in the center of the
grill, and move coals to the side to prevent fat and juices from
dripping on them. Cut charred portions off the meat.
For further information, contact:
Meat and poultry
1 (800) 535-4555
1 (800) 256-7072