July 4th is a time for picnics and the barbecue season offers lots of opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. But these warm weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical.
Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County encourages you to:
- Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Take out only the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.
- When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun and place it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature. Whole poultry should reach 180 °F; breasts, 170 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F; ground poultry, 165 °F. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 °F.
- NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
- After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served at 140 °F or warmer.
- Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200 °F), in a chafing dish or slow cooker or on a warming tray.
- When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
- In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
- Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).
Never leave a grill unattended.