Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish. Follow these steps for a safe and enjoyable grilling season.
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. This includes while marinating. Always put meat back into the refrigerator during marinating time and never defrost meat on the countertop. When transporting, keep below 40°F in an insulated cooler.
Wash your hands<https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/> with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces<https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/clean/index.html>, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
Check your grill and tools
Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill's surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill<https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6126a4.htm>.
Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
Use a food thermometer <https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/cook/index.html> to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
* 145°F - whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
* 145°F - fish
* 160°F - hamburgers and other ground beef
* 165°F - all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
140°F or warmer - until it's served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge<https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/chill/index.html> within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).
Source: Texas AgriLife, Dinner Tonight and CDC.