Science: Use therMOMeter to keep dad safe on Sunday

FamilyBBQ_D3Campaign2012_blogWith Father’s Day around the corner, many will see charcoal smoke wafting through their neighborhoods as families come together around the grill in celebration of dad. However, grilling outdoors doesn’t mean food safety rules stay inside, Carla Haley-Hadley, Miller County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said in a recent article.

When it comes to food safety, always preheat the grill to kill microorganisms and use separate clean tongs and plates when removing food from the grill. This will help to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria with uncooked meat, she added.

Then, when it’s time to grill the food, cook it to a safe internal temperature and use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked entirely.  “The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the meat and should not be touching bone, fat, or gristle,” Haley-Hadley said.

Steaks and roasts should be cooked to at least 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium. Ground meats should be cooked to 160°F and poultry, to at least 165°F. For fin fish, 145°F and until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

“Tongs are one of the most important tools,” Haley-Hadley said in the article. These enable you to turn the food without stabbing it. When you use a fork, or something to stab the meat and turn it, you are allowing the juices, which keep the steak moist, to be lost.”

To ensure those juices stay in the meat, Hadley also suggests letting the meat rest before cutting, no matter how hungry the chef and diners might be.

“This doesn’t have to be a long time, just a few minutes are adequate to allow the juices in the steak to redistribute themselves,” she said.

When it comes to barbecuing, the disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes is one foodborne illness you will want to make sure you take certain precautions to avoid. Listeria, which can grow at warm and refrigeration temperatures, can cause a foodborne illness called listeriosis — one of deadliest foodborne illnesses.

When not prepared properly, hot dogs for example, are a common source of Listeria monocytogenes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlines several tips to keep your grilled hot dogs in tip-top shape, including: 

  • Never eat hot dogs straight out the package. Hot dogs must always be heated to 165°F or higher before eaten.
  • Wash hands after handling hot dogs from the package.
  • Avoid getting hot dog juice from the package on other foods, utensils, or preparation surfaces.
  • After grilling hot dogs, keep the temperature at 140°F or higher until served.
  • Make sure leftover hot dogs are refrigerated or put on ice two hours after they are removed from the grill or one hour if the temperature is over 90°F. When you reheat them, heat them to 165⁰F or higher.
  • Leftover hot dogs that have been refrigerated should be eaten within three to four days.

For more information on barbeque food safety, click here.

Comments are closed.