Summertime is great for grilling—but is your food safe to eat? Be sure to follow these tips this summer to ensure that you, your family and friends stay safe.
Shopping for food
When you buy groceries at the store, wait until you’re ready to check out before you put raw meat in your cart. It can get warm if it’s in your cart while you’re still shopping. If it gets too warm, dangerous bacteria can start growing and make you sick when you eat it.
If you can, put the meat in separate shopping bags—separate from each other, and from your other groceries. This will prevent cross-contamination.
When you get home, be sure to put the meat in a refrigerator that is no warmer than 40°F or a freezer. If you need to transport the meat, put it in a cooler that will keep it no warmer than 40°F.
Preparing the food
When it’s time to start cooking, you can take the meat out of the refrigerator. Remember: Raw meat left out at room temperature isn’t safe to eat after two hours. After two hours, dangerous bacteria begin to grow on the meat, rendering it unsafe to eat.
When you cook meat, you get rid of harmful bacteria that make the meat unsafe to eat. When preparing to cook it, be careful not to cross-contaminate. Any knives, tongs, plates, cutting boards, utensils, etc., that touch the raw meat should not be used again until they are washed properly. Do not use the contaminated tools to touch the meat once it’s cooked, any other food you are planning to consume, or any other tools you plan to use. And, FYI, marinades and sauces that touched raw meat juices can contaminate your food if you don’t cook them.
Also, make sure your grill, oven or stove is clean before you start cooking.
Cooking the food
Do you know how long the raw meat has been in your refrigerator? Generally, poultry, ground meat and other chopped-up meat (e.g., pancetta), should be cooked within two days of purchase, unless it’s frozen. Larger cuts of meat, like roasts, steaks and pork chops afford you a little more time—cook it within five days of purchase, or freeze it. When you freeze raw meat, it stops the bacteria from growing. When you take it out of the freezer, the time starts when the meat has thawed completely.
Here are the internal temperatures you should measure from inside the thickest part of your meat when it’s done cooking (and resting for three minutes, if applicable): 145°F for beef, pork, lamb, veal and fish; 160°F for burgers and other ground meat; and 165°F for poultry and other pre-cooked foods like hotdogs. Once the food has been cooked, keep it 140°F or warmer until you are ready to eat.
Put leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours after cooking. If you’re outside and it’s above 90°F outside, put the cooked food away within an hour.
Cookouts are a summertime favorite, so it’s important to make sure that they don’t end with someone getting sick—especially if you’re feeding people who don’t live with you. But, accidents happen, and your homeowners policy should cover you if guests fall victim to food poisoning. Give our office a call today to discuss your homeowners policy and what coverages are afforded to you.