Dangerous mistakes you might be making when you grill
Grill masters, get fired up! Your season is upon us.
Memorial Day is synonymous with the start of summer grilling season. But did you know that only 20 percent of Americans use a thermometer to check if their meat and poultry is thoroughly cooked?
Health experts recommend always using a thermometer to make sure temperatures are hot enough that you’ve nuked food-borne pathogens.
Food poisoning sickens 48 million Americans a year, and the illness is particularly problematic for young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Experts warn that you can’t rely on color, smell, taste or texture alone to determine whether your meat is cooked properly. In fact, registered dietitian nutritionist Heather Mangieri, said one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it’s been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
Mangieri offers tips for using a food thermometer:
- Insert the food thermometer into the thickest part of the food. Make sure that it doesn’t touch bone, fat or gristle.
- Cook until the thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground beef, pork and veal; 145 degrees Fahrenheit for beef, pork, veal and lamb steaks, chops and roasts; and 165 degrees Fahrenheit for all poultry.
- Some foods need three minutes of rest time after cooking to make sure harmful germs are destroyed. Those foods include beef, veal, lamb, pork and raw ham.
- Make sure to clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.
Need a thermometer? We’ve found a few good deals on the instrument: A basic OXO Thermometer from Target for $12.59; a programmable food thermometer with timer from Tool King for $22.97 or a laser infrared thermometer from Best Buy for $46.28.
Other safe cooking tips:
- When you’re shopping, pick up your meat last. Make sure it’s tightly wrapped and cool to the touch. Ask that it be bagged separately from other foods.
- Proper hand washing may eliminate nearly half of all cases of food poisoning and reduce the spread of the cold and flu. Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Also, remember to wash your hands after switching tasks — such as handling raw meat and then chopping up veggies.
- Wash your dish towels and change out sponges often. A smelly towel or sponge hints that bacteria is lurking nearby. Disinfect sponges with a chlorine bleach solution and wash your dishcloths and towels in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Use one cutting board for meat, poultry and seafood, and a separate cutting board for produce so you don’t cross-contaminate. And, be aware of the tools that you used during cooking and don’t mix them up with the utensils you use to serve cooked food.
- Refrigerate foods quickly and at a proper temperature to prevent food poisoning. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours. That time is reduced to one hour if if you’re out in hot weather, defined as 90 degrees or higher. Make sure your fridge is set below 40 degrees.
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