A Quick Guide to Safe Summer Grilling

Food safetySummer means the start of BBQ season, and evenings spent on the patio enjoying your favourite foods. Some Canadians cook on their outdoor grills year-round, but the summer in particular poses specific food safety challenges.

Bacteria multiply in food in warmer temperatures, so when it comes to summer grilling, food safety practices become especially important. The good news is that food safety experts have provided very simple practices anyone can follow to eliminate the chances of contamination so that nobody becomes ill.

Read on to discover a few tips that will help you stay safe when grilling food this summer.

Food Safety Tip #1: Practicing Food Safety from the Store to the Fridge

Professionals with a food handling certificate would agree that when buying groceries, it’s important to keep meats and poultry separate from the rest of the items in your shopping cart. By doing this, you avoid raw meat or poultry juices dripping onto other food, which can cause cross-contamination.

At the check-out, make sure that poultry and meats are placed into their own plastic bags. Most grocery stores will bag your foods in this way as a safe practice. Try and get home as soon as possible, as meat and poultry shouldn’t be outside of refrigeration for more than 2 hours.

At home, meat and poultry should immediately be placed in the fridge. Ground meats and poultry that won’t be cooked within 1-2 days should be put in the freezer –other meats can last up to 4 days in the fridge. Make sure that meat and poultry is completely thawed before grilling so that it cooks evenly.

Food Safety Tip #2: Best Practices for Food Handling and Marinating

One of the fundamentals taught in a food handling course is to wash your hands after handling raw meat or poultry. It’s important to use soap and hot water to make sure you eliminate harmful bacteria like salmonella. While cooking on the grill, you can keep a jug of soapy water nearby to wash your hands without having to make excessive trips to the sink.

Marinating of meat and poultry should always be done in the fridge—not on the counter. Poultry can be marinated for up to 2 days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb can marinate for up to 5 days. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce, make sure to reserve a portion of it before combining it with the meat.

Food Safety Tip #3: Safe Grilling, Serving and Food Storage

To kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, food must be thoroughly cooked on the grill. A food thermometer can come in very handy when working the grill. A food safety training course will teach that all meats have safe minimum internal temperatures before humans can eat them. They are:

  • Whole poultry: 165 °F
  • Poultry breasts: 165 °F
  • Ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minute

Once meat and poultry are done cooking on the grill, they should be kept hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer. It’s also important to remember to use a clean serving plate when transferring food off of the grill –never use the same one that was used to transport raw meats.

It can be tough to remember in the middle of a summer BBQ, but food should also be refrigerated within 2 hours of being cooked.

Are you interested in learning more about safe food practices? Check out our Food Safety Program, or visit our website to speak to an advisor.