Summer time for a lot of people means grilling time! Letting the summer sun wash over you while you cook should not distract you from a few important points about food safety.

The biggest issues with grilling is something called “cross-contamination”. Translation: raw food (and its juices) touching cooked food. This can happen when raw food touches cooked foods directly or in a variety of indirect ways: putting cooked foods on a plate that was also used for raw food, using the same tongs to flip raw and cooked meats, even double dipping the bbq sauce brush! Don’t let food poisoning ruin your backyard bbq or your reputation as a master griller. Follow these guidelines for an food-poisoning free summer:

1. WASH YOUR HANDS. Its the easiest way to avoid contamination- if people did it more often, it could eliminate nearly half of all cases of food borne illnesses. Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meat.

2. Wash the plates and utensils used to handle raw foods OR use separate ones for raw and cooked foods. The juices of raw foods can contain bacteria that is easily transferred to the cooked foods.

3. Clean your grill with soap and water between uses. Sounds crazy, I know, but a few minutes of washing can help to save you time stuck in bed sick from food poisoning.

4. Use a thermometer to check temperatures of cooked meat. Relying on color is not a reliable way to check if the internal temperature has reached a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria. PLUS, it a perfect host/hostess gadget to buy for your next bbq party! Here are some guidelines:

-Hamburgers, Pork (chops, ribs, roast), venison = 160F.

-Hotdogs, Bratwurst, Turkey/Chicken sausages, Chicken & turkey (breast, drumstick, thigh, wing), leftovers = 165F.

-Roast beef / prime rib: medium rare: 145, medium: 160, well done: 170F.
-Shrimp/lobster/crab (red shell, flesh pearly opaque), fish(until opaque and flakes easily): 145F

5. Don’t reuse the bbq sauce you used to marinate raw meats unless the sauce is to be cooked. If you use a brush to apply sauce to your meat, don’t forget to clean it with soapy water (or use a different brush) to touch up that sauce before serving. Better yet, divide out the sauce into 2 bowls: one to be used on raw meat and the other onto cooked meat. I prefer to use a spoon to apply sauce to my raw meats because it can be washed easily compared to a brush.

6. Leftover are to be kept for a maximum of 3-4 days. The longer they sit in the fridge, the more bacteria can grown on them. Its also a good idea to reheat leftovers up to an internal temperature of 165oF.

7. Marinate and defrost meats in the fridge. Leaving them out on the counter at room temperature to thaw is the perfect condition for harmful bacteria to grow.

8. If you are hosting a party and know that foods will be sitting out more then an hour, portion food out into smaller bowls. Food sitting out for over an hour on a hot day is at a high risk for having bacteria develop. Refill the smaller bowls only when needed and refrigerate foods asap.