by Mary Saucier Choate, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Dietitian and Food and Nutrition Educator
Did You Know?
Raw foods may be contaminated with bacteria that can make people sick. Proper handling, cooking, and refrigerating of foods can minimize your risk of becoming ill.
Those most at risk for foodborne illness are young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, e.g. people with diabetes, who are HIV positive, or who are on cancer therapy.
Ground beef is a risk because surface bacteria are transferred to the interior of the meat during grinding, giving them a much greater surface area on which to grow. Cooked steaks and roasts offer a much lower risk of carrying foodborne bugs since the bacteria exist on the surface only and are destroyed in the cooking process
Tips for Keeping Your BBQ Delicious and Safe
Keep meat and poultry cold from store to home. Use an ice chest if your ride is more than one hour long.
Use different cutting boards for preparing ready-to-eat foods and raw meats.
Always use separate platters for raw meats and cooked meats.
Wash utensils and knives with hot soapy water after contact with raw foods.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure 160ºF for safely cooked hamburger.
Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the food (at least 2 ½”). Insert the thermometer sideways into the patty or steak to ensure that enough of the tip is in the meat for an accurate reading.
Wash the thermometer in hot soapy water after testing undercooked meat.
Refrigerate cooked meats after two hours at room temperature (After one hour in hot weather).
Special Notes on Marinade
Always marinate meats in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
Make separate batches of marinade, one for basting on uncooked meats and one for cooked. If you wish to use the basting marinade on cooked meat, first bring it to a rolling boil for one full minute before serving.
Avoid basting during last ten minutes of cooking, as there may not be adequate cooking time for destruction of dangerous bacteria.
Have you heard about the potential for cancer-causing compounds to form in charred barbecued meats and poultry? Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are carcinogenic compounds formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures, particularly when it is burned or charred. The good news is that avoiding these compounds while cooking to safe temperatures is pretty easy. Marinating the beef for as little as 40 minutes reduces these compounds by as much as 92-99 percent.
Additional steps to decrease the possible cancer risk posed by grilling are:
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