Getting ready to grill? Think food safety

bratwurst on grill_blogAhh the long weekend. It’s a time to kick back, relax and have one last big cookout before the end of summer. Keep these food safety tips from and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mind to make sure your barbecue is food safe.


  • Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat items (e.g., fruits and vegetables) in your shopping cart and in bags.
  • Refrigerate meat and poultry as soon as you get home (the fridge should be at 40°F). If freezing meat, remember when it comes time to defrost, do so in the refrigerator, not on the counter (i.e., at room temperature).


  • Much like when you were shopping, keep raw items separate from ready-to-eat foods. This includes using different plates and utensils for raw vs. cooked items such as meat (or washing the utensils, etc. thoroughly before reusing).
  • Using your signature marinade? Do so in the fridge, not on the counter or outside (again, room temperature is in the “danger zone” for raw meat as it allows bacteria to multiply faster). Once raw meat or poultry has been added to the marinade, do not use it on ready-to-eat foods (reserve some of the marinade before added meat, if you would like to use it elsewhere).
  • Heading to a friend’s house? Ensure you’ve got enough ice in the cooler to keep food at 40°F or lower.


Grilling is great but so is ensuring meat reaches a safe internal temperature. Remember, color isn’t a good indicator but meat thermometers are). Once you start grilling, finish. Don’t partially cook food on the grill and finish later.

  • Poultry: 165°F
  • Pork: 145°F
  • Beef, lamb or veal (steaks, chops): 160°F
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Ground meat: 160°F
  • Ground poultry: 165°F

Need to keep cooked items warm (at 140°F) until it’s time to eat? Set them next to the grill rack or put them in an oven set at 200°F.


  • Use clean platters, plates and utensils. This prevents cross-contamination with bacteria that could have been on raw items.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • If it’s hotter than 90°F out, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If it is, it’s best to throw it out. For temperatures cooler than 90°F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than two hours.

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