Summer is officially here, which means a lot of us will be firing up the grill and heading out to barbeques and outdoor events! It’s always important to keep food safety in mind, but especially in the hot summer months. With temperatures reaching the 90’s and more people serving food outdoors, the risk of getting sick from a foodborne illnesses increases.

Enjoy the outdoor parties and family picnics, but keep these tips in mind so everyone stays safe!

  • Start with a clean surface! Always clean food prep areas with hot soapy water before preparing food. Wipe down outdoor grills and clean all coolers with hot soapy water. Always use clean utensils and serving platters.
  • Thaw meat safely! Always thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter at room temperature.
  • Wash hands often! Always wash your hands before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Avoid cross contamination! You never want to mix raw meats with prepared cooked foods. Keep raw meats separated, in different dishes, and use different utensils to handle them. Once you put raw meat on a grill, immediately place the dish and utensil aside. Use a clean plate and utensil when fully cooked meat is removed from the grill.
  • Marinades: Always marinate raw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter at room temperature. Never reuse marinade that was on raw meat. If you dipped a basting brush into a bowl of marinade and brushed raw meat, you must discard the bowl of marinade when finished.
  • Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone! Food should never be kept between 41 degrees and 135 degrees for more than 2 hours, so don’t leave food sitting out for your party guests all afternoon. When outside in the hot summer sun, you shouldn’t keep food out for more than an hour. At these temperatures bacteria can grow rapidly.
  • Keep food below 40 degrees! Keep perishable foods stored in the refrigerator or in ice filled coolers until you are ready to cook or eat. When transporting food, pack perishables in a cooler and place the cooler out of direct sun. To be extra safe, place a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to make sure food stays below 40 degrees.
  • Cook foods thoroughly! Always use a meat thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly. Whole cuts of beef and pork should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. Ground beef, pork and lamb should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees. All poultry should be cooked to minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Leftovers: Discard any food that has been left out for more than 2 hours (or more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees). When consuming leftovers at a later time, heat all food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.