Ahead of Memorial Day weekend here are a few tips to help consumers safely prepare, handle, cook and store their favorite meat and poultry items this weekend.
Safety tips for handling and preparing raw meat and poultry include:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat.
- Keep fresh meat and poultry refrigerated at 40°F at all times for safety.
- Avoid the “Danger Zone!” Bacteria can grow rapidly between 40 to 140°F.
- Make sure meat is thawed completely before cooking. Also, be sure to keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.
- Store perishables, including leftovers, in the refrigerator or a cooler. Use ice or gel packs inside the cooler to keep food cold.
- Do not allow any perishable food to stay unrefrigerated for more than two hours, or one hour when the outside temperature is over 90°F.
- Trim excess fat from meat to prevent fire and grease flare-ups.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator using a glass or plastic food-safe container to keep them at the proper temperature.
Safety tips for grilling meat and poultry include:
- Clean all grilling utensils and plates before you begin grilling.
- Clean cutting boards and grilling utensils in hot, soapy water between every use.
- Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables.
- Make sure your grill is hot enough to cook your food. Whether your grill is charcoal or gas, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry is thoroughly cooked.
- The USDA recommends safe minimum internal temperatures of 145°F for pork, beef, steaks and chops, 160°F for ground pork and beef and 165°F for turkey and chicken. Hotdogs should be served steaming hot.
- After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot at 140°F or warmer until it’s served. If at home, cooked meat and poultry can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200°F.
- After your food is cooked, use a new, clean plate to place the food on.
- Discard marinades and sauces that have come in contact with raw meat juices.
Safety tips for storing leftovers include:
- Leftovers should be refrigerated promptly after cooking.
- Throw away all perishable foods that have been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours (one hour if the outside temperature is over 90°F, such as at an outdoor picnic during summer).
- Leftover meat and poultry can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, or frozen for three to four months.
- Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Immediately refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for faster cooling.
- Reheat cooked leftovers to 165°F, as measured with a food thermometer.
Safety tips were provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). For a complete list of grilling safety tips, click here.