A man grilling food.

Stay Healthy with These Food Safety Tips

While Terry might have to back up from a fireworks show gone wrong, he won’t have to leave the dinner table when practicing food safety.

Denise DeSalvo, a registered dietitian and instructor in the department of human nutrition and hospitality management, has taught a course on food safety and sanitation, and has several tips to keep in mind when preparing your favorite July Fourth dishes.

Start with Clean Hands, Grill

Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food. If those aren’t available, hand sanitizer and disposable wipes are an alternative.

Remember to clean the grill before cooking. Bits of food from previous use could contain harmful pathogens that can contaminate fresh foods and lead to foodborne illness symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which can ruin a holiday celebration.

Separate Raw and Cooked Foods

If you only have one cooler, put raw items under or below those that are already cooked or ready-to-eat. It is best to use two different coolers if possible.

Monitor Food Temperatures

Use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature of proteins like hamburgers, steaks, chicken, sausages, and fishes or seafood. Here is a handy list of safe minimum internal temperatures provided by the FDA:

  • 165 degrees Fahrenheit for all poultry items like chicken legs, thighs, breasts and wings. Items made with ground poultry, like turkey burgers, should also be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 155 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat such as hamburger patties.
  • 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks and chops, fish and shellfish.

Be Cautious of Marinades

Keep an eye on marinades, especially those used to flavor proteins like chicken, beef or shrimp. Marinate each item separately and the adage, “keep raw and cooked separate,” applies here, too. Only use the marinating liquid as a sauce for the cooked items after cooking/boiling the marinating liquid. Avoid using uncooked marinating liquid that contained the raw product on your cooked foods and do not re-use any leftover marinating liquid.

Handle Salad Mixtures with Care

Tuna, egg and potato salads are a “cool” alternative to hot dishes in the summer. Remove small portions from the cooler or refrigerator and replenish as needed rather than let the entire batch sit out under the hot sun.

If you have food delivered to your barbecue, consume the food within two hours and refrigerate leftovers at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Discard any food that has been out without temperature control for longer than two hours.