Celebrating Safely: Outdoor Food Safety

ABC News

ABC News

Many will be grilling out this Fourth of July, but it's no picnic if anyone gets sick because of food poisoning. If you aren't careful, cooking outdoors can be hazardous to your health.

Ahhh...the sound of summer.

But before firing up the grill, Dietitian Elisa Sloss has some smart strategies to keep you and your guests from getting sick.

First: Keep meat in the fridge or a cooler until it's time to grill.

"If you're defrosting meat, do that in the refrigerator, don't leave it out at room temperature and same goes for marinating meat," said Sloss.

Second: Pack food wisely.

"It's a good idea to transfer beverages and meats in separate coolers if possible. Just so you don't have cross contamination or any other bacteria getting onto your drinks, which you're going to enjoy right away."

Third: Keep track of utensils and plates to avoid cross contamination.

"You can either wash your utensil that you were using to put those meats on the grill or use a separate one, a clean one, to transfer that cooked meat to a different plate," Sloss added.

Rule Four: Don't leave it to up to your eyes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure burgers and brats are done.

Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees; steaks or seafood to 145.

Five: Keep cold foods cold.

Elisa suggests putting perishables like potato salad and coleslaw on ice to keep bacteria at bay.

Six: Food should only sit out for two hours.
One hour if it's being served outdoors in 90-degree temperatures or higher.

If you lose track of time or just not sure how your food has been sitting out, remember these words, when it doubt, throw it out.

Advice to make sure your barbecue leaves guests happy and healthy.

Elisa Sloss's biggest safety suggestion: Practice good hand washing, especially before, during and after touching raw meat.
If cooking out at a lake or campground, bring along plenty of towels, towelettes and hand sanitizer.


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