Now that you know how to grill safely (see June 29th post), I’ll share some food safety tips with you.
Believe it or not, food safety begins in the grocery store. When you shop for food, pick up the perishable items last - meats, dairy, and frozen foods.
Living in Florida for the past 30-some-odd years has taught me to place a cooler - with ice packs - in the trunk before heading to the store, and to drive directly home. The trunk of your car gets hotter than hell, and the inside of the car doesn’t get cool enough, even with the air conditioner running.
Remember, the Temperature Danger Zone is 41°F to 135°F, meaning - keep foods OUT of this temperature range!
Perishable food must be kept cold, especially if you are traveling to a picnic destination. In order to prevent cross-contamination, pack uncooked meat, poultry, and fish separately from any food you are planning to serve uncooked, such as a tossed salad.
If you plan to marinate anything for the grill, be sure to marinate in the refrigerator- not at room temperature. (Refer to Temp. Danger Zone above)
Since raw meat, poultry and fish juices may contain harmful bacteria, it is important to DISCARD any leftover marinade. Also leftover marinade should not be used as a sauce for the grilled meat.
If you forget yourself, and end up basting the meat using the marinade with raw meat juices in it, stop marinating for the last 5 minutes of grilling so that the raw meat juices can be thoroughly cooked.
Here’s a REALLY important tip: if you are grilling chicken, consider parboiling the chicken at home in advance, then finishing the preparation on the grill. We have been served chicken that was charred on the outside and still raw in the middle - YUCK!
Having a food thermometer on hand is a good idea, too. Instant-read models are available, so you can check, in a flash, to see if the food has reached the proper internal temperature. Check out this link for a list of proper food temperatures.
NEVER - EVER put cooked food back on the same platter that held any raw meat, poultry or fish.
I think this covers the key points, so think before you act, and enjoy a wonderful grilling season!