Summer Grilling Meets Food Safety
The weather is warming up! Are you ready for grilling season? Brush off those grates and brush up on your knowledge of grilling food safety to keep your guests well-fed and most importantly, safe from foodborne illness. You’ve graduated to the grill, but now it’s time for your MBA (Masters in BBQ Administration), which means close attention to detail when prepping to cook outdoors. There are four important areas to focus on to keep food safety a priority. Remember the Core Four (Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill) for a surefire food safety win!
Clean and sanitize items regularly that come into contact with raw poultry or its packaging. No, this does not mean washing your poultry once it is taken out of the packaging! Not only does washing poultry not serve a food safety purpose, it actually spreads more bacteria around your kitchen, especially the sink basin. Limit the spread of bacteria by quickly cleaning surfaces and utensils. If you use a knife to trim your turkey while prepping it, make sure you wash it before slicing into your finished product. Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after handling raw poultry.
It is so important to keep surfaces that come into contact with raw turkey separate. This means putting your raw turkey into a separate bag at check-out and making sure that it stays away from raw fruits and vegetables until it reaches the fridge. Also, be sure to keep any cutting boards or utensils used for raw poultry separate from those used to prep vegetables or other raw foods that will not be cooked. Doing all your prep and cooking outside? Consider disposable cutting boards that allow for quicker cleanup. It’s also important to designate a clean and dirty hand when applying binders or rubs to keep the spread of bacteria to a minimum.
While this step may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many backyard grillers just wing it when it comes to checking for doneness. Always make sure your poultry reaches 165°F before serving! Use a meat thermometer to probe the center of the thickest part of the breast or thigh to get an accurate reading. If grilling sausages or burgers, probe the side of the burger or end of the sausage for the best reading and to avoid hitting the grill grates. Make sure the probe is deep enough to get a true reading of internal temperature.
Proper chilling is paramount to ensuring food safety standards are met. If you remove your poultry from the fridge for prep and your grill is taking a while to come up to temp, place your poultry back into the fridge until the grill is ready. Chilling food is also important for leftovers after serving. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. If you’re outside and the temperature is 90˚F or above, cut this time down to one hour.
Time to Grill
Now that food safety has been addressed, it’s time to get on the grill! We have tons of recipes for summer grilling on the EatTurkey.org and TurkeySmoke.org sites. Some of the hottest names in food blogging and BBQ have shared tried and true recipes to help your summer pop with flavor. Check out a few of our grilled and smoked favorites below!