Outdoor Food Safety

When the weather turns warm, Americans love to head outdoors. Whether it is a picnic at the beach or a barbecue in the backyard, food seems to always play a major role in our outdoor activities. While ideal for picnics and barbecues, warm temperatures also provide an inviting environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness.

Safe grilling techniques can depend on many factors such as the type of meat, its size and shape, the distance between the food and heat source, and the temperatures of the coals. 

Helpful Tips

Follow the tips provided for a safe grilling season this summer:

  • Always, wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
  • Do not leave foods that must be refrigerated outside for long periods of time. Perishable food items such as potato salad, deviled eggs, should be either put back into a cooler or refrigerator immediately after using or disposed of as soon as possible.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature.
  • Hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145°F for medium rare or to 160°F for medium. Cook ground poultry to 165°F and poultry parts to 170°F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  • When marinating for long periods of time, it is important to keep foods refrigerated. Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food.
  • When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that previously held raw food.

Additional Information

For more information regarding summer food safety, please contact us at 309-929-0272 or 309-925-5511, or email Environmental Health.