Handling & Safety Tip

In The Grocery Store

When shopping for meat, fish, and poultry:

  • Put them in your grocery cart last
  • Never buy a package that’s damaged or torn
  • Check “sell by” dates
  • Put packaged raw meat in plastic bags (prevents leaking juices from contaminating other foods)
  • Load grocery bags with meat and other perishable foods in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk
  • Refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible

In addition, take groceries home immediately or bring along a cooler with ice packs and place the meat in it. If you won’t use meat, fish, and poultry within a few days, be sure to freeze immediately.

At Home

When carrying food to a picnic, the beach, or a tailgating party, keep it cold. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove food from the refrigerator and pack the cooler just before leaving the house.

If using take-out foods such as deli potato salad, coleslaw, or baked beans, eat within two hours of purchase. Otherwise, purchase in advance and chill thoroughly, then transport in a cooler and reheat those that should be hot just before eating.

Store refrigerated meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator in its original packaging. The more times the food is handled, the more chance of contamination. Put a plate under the package or place in a plastic bag to avoid juices dripping onto refrigerator shelves.

Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Allow sufficient defrosting time. Or, immerse packaged food in cold water to thaw. If you’re in a hurry, thaw in the microwave just prior to grilling.

Hand washing is paramount. Wash hands in hot, soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat, and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, and when stopping to help children.

Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. That means thoroughly washing cutting boards, knives, platters, etc... before letting them come in contact with other foods that you’re preparing or with cooked foods that you’re about to serve.

Sanitize cutting boards and counter tops with chlorine bleach. Pour a small amount on surface and let stand several minutes, rinse thoroughly and air dry or dry with clean paper towel. Soak sponges and dishcloths in hot soapy water to which you’ve added chlorine bleach.

Marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter.

Boil any marinade to destroy bacteria if you plan to baste with it or serve it with the cooked meat. Never save marinades for reuse.

On The Grill

Pre-cook chicken and ribs immediately before grilling. Never let partially cooked food sit for more than a few minutes before tossing it on the grill to finish it.

Cook meat thoroughly. Use a meat or “instant read” thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature. As a guideline:

  • Poultry should be cooked to 180 degrees F, or 170 degrees for breasts
  • Beef, lamb, and veal roasts/steaks to 145 to 160 degrees F
  • Hamburgers to 160 degrees F
  • All pork to 160 degrees F

When grilling away from home, take meat out of the cooler just in time to put it on the gril, being sure to only take out how much you will need for immediate grilling. Keep cooler closed.

Reheat foods or fully cooked meats like hot dogs by grilling to 165 degrees F or until steaming hot.

Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups; never char the meat.

Refrigerate leftover food quickly, within two hours, and use within a couple of days.

Turkey without Fear of Frying

Deep fried turkey, a longtime favorite of the South, has become popular throughout the country. Once you’ve tasted the juicy, flavorful turkey with its crispy, golden skins, you may never want to roast the big bird again. Thanksgiving and Christmas are favorite times to fry a turkey but it’s increasingly popular at July 4th celebrations and other summer barbecue parties.

Use the appliance only for its intended purpose. Consult your owner’s manual on its safe operation.

A turkey that is 14 pounds or less is easier to handles, thus it increases the safety of frying.

  • Never leave a cooker unattended (make sure you have all the necessary utensils beforehand); hot oil can present fire or burn hazards
  • Always use the thermometer that comes with the unit; never allow oil to exceed 375 degrees F
  • Always thaw and dry the turkey completely before cooking
  • Always lower the turkey slowly into the hot oil
  • Turkey fryer pots have a marked fill line; use only the amount or level of oil specified by the manufacturer and do not exceed the fill line
  • Never move the cooker or pot while in use or hot; keep children and pets well away
  • Never touch hot surfaces; always use cooking mitts
  • Use only cookware and accessories designed for frying turkeys; never use glassware, ceramic or plastic cookware

Use outdoors only on a flat, stable surface, and away from any combustible materials (such as wood rail or decks, dry grass, leaves, or shrubs). Never use inside any enclosed are (patio or garage) or under the overhang of the house or building.

If an oil/grease fire breaks out, do not attempt to extinguish it with water. Call the fire department immediately. An operable dry-chemical fire extinguisher may, in some circumstances, contain the fire.

Allow oil to cool completely before removing from pot.

This information was supplied by the Hearth, Patio and BBQ Association.