Love to Grill?

students bbq1

Summer is in full swing and one of the first items on the list is to get your barbecue grills ready to go for all of those backyard picnics! Grilling meats, vegetables, and fruit is a healthy cooking method as it cuts down on the amount of additional fat needed to prepare food. In addition, grilling draws out the natural flavors in food and enhances the taste.  However, there are some food safety items to pay attention to before, during, and after those coals are lit!

  1. Wash hands before, during, and after handling food. Pack hand sanitizer for times when soap and water aren’t available.
  2. Scrub the grill with hot, soapy water before and after use to remove burnt-on foods.
  3. Keep coolers stocked with ice to keep raw meat, poultry, and fish from getting too warm during transport.
  4. Marinate all meat in plastic zip-top bags in either the refrigerator or in ice-filled coolers to avoid transferring bacteria through a marinade brush. If you need to use a marinade brush, be sure to have separate ones for raw and cooked meats, or if you only have one, wash it in hot, soapy water between uses. Bring leftover sauces to a boil before reusing them on cooked meats.
  5. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods, including fruits and vegetables.
  6. Always use a meat thermometer to make sure meat (including ground meat), poultry or fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. This is key to reducing the potential for food poisoning.
  7. Download the iPhone/Android app – “Is My Food Safe?” to have quick access to information on safe cooking temperatures, food storage guides, and links to food safety experts.
  8. Condiments should not be left sitting out of a cooler or refrigerator for more than two hours (one hour in temperatures of 90°F or above).

Rules for Picnic Packing

As you prepare to host a barbecue or take a dish to a picnic or outdoor party, follow a few simple food safety rules:
  1. Prep less than one day ahead of your picnic/barbecue so food tastes fresh.
  2. To keep food that can spoil (perishable food) safe, keep it at or below 40°F by transporting it on ice.
  3. Heat your hot dish just before taking it to your picnic/barbecue location. Many foods can be cooked the day before and reheated just before heading out.  Wrap the hot container in a towel, and tote carefully. Keep hot food at or above 140°F.
  4. Serve—then stow. Once folks have their first plateful dished up, put perishable foods back on ice in your cooler to keep it cold (40°F or cooler). Anyone who wants a second helping of potato salad can dig back into the cooler.
  5. Be sure to use the one-hour/two-hour rule. Don’t let perishable food sit out for more than one hour if it’s a hot day (90°F or more) or two hours if it’s below 90°F. Perishable food becomes unsafe and a breeding ground for bacteria when left out longer at temperatures in the 60-125°F range.
  6. Toss the leftovers. The food will have been handled a lot, and may have been sitting out for a while. Remember the rule:  “If in doubt, throw it out”.

Contact:  Kirstin Jensen (, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Idaho County, (208) 983-2667.