Outdoor grilling is a favorite summertime activity,
and increasingly is practiced year round. When
cooking outside the kitchen, it particularly important
to follow food safety guidelines that prevent harmful
bacteria from causing foodborne illness.
Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and
Inspection Service offers these simple guidelines for
barbecuing and grilling food safely:
Buy Meats Last… Refrigerate at Home Promptly
At the grocery store, buy cold food like meat and
poultry last, right before checkout.
meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart, and guard against cross-contamination by
putting packages containing raw meat into plastic
Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store
(this is particularly important during the Las Vegas
If you have a long distance to drive,
you may want to take a cooler with ice for
Be sure to refrigerate perishable foods
within one hour when the outdoor temperature is above 90°.
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until
ready to use.
Frozen meat and poultry should be defrosted fully
before grilling to promote even cooking.
slowly in the refrigerator or thaw sealed packages in
You can use a microwave to defrost
foods that will be placed immediately on the grill.
Meat and poultry are often marinated to tenderize or
Refrigerate meats as they marinate.
Do not marinate foods on countertops or anywhere else
Set aside any marinade to be
used as a sauce on cooked food before adding raw
Any marinade used for raw foods should be
When carrying food to another location, keep it cold
to minimize bacterial growth.
Use an insulated
cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40° or below.
Pack food right from the
refrigerator into the cooler immediately before
Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight.
Consider using a separate cooler for beverages.
Keep Everything Clean
Prevent foodborne illness by using separate platters
and utensils for raw and cooked meats. Harmful
bacteria present in raw meat and raw meat juices can
contaminate safely cooked food.
If you’re eating away from home, find out if there is
a source of clean water. If not, bring water for
preparation and cleaning, or pack clean cloths and
wet towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Precook Food Safely
Precooking food partially in the microwave oven,
conventional oven or stove is a good way of
reducing grilling time. Make sure that the food goes immediately on a preheated grill after precooking.
Never partially cook meat or poultry and finish
Cook Food Thoroughly
Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy
Meat and poultry cooked on a grill
often browns very fast on the outside.
Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe
Hamburgers and all cuts of pork, 160°
Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops,
Fully Reheat Foods
When reheating fully cooked meats, like hot dogs,
grill to 165° or until steaming hot.
Keep Cooked Foods Hot
Cooked meats should be kept at 140° or warmer
until served. Keep foods hot by setting them to the
side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
At home, cooked meats
can be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately
200°), in a chafing dish or on a warming tray.
Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow
containers. Discard any food left out more than two
hours (one hour if the air temperature is above 90°).
Tips on Smoking Foods
Smoking is cooking food indirectly in the presence of
a fire. It can be done in a covered grill if a pan of
water is placed beneath the meat on the grill. Meats can be smoked in a "smoker," which is an outdoor
cooker especially designed for smoking foods.
Smoking is done much more slowly than grilling, so
less tender meats benefit from this method, and a
natural smoke flavoring permeates the meat.
Keep the temperature in the smoker at 250° to 300° for safety. Use a meat thermometer to be sure the
food has reached a safe internal temperature, and is
Tips on Pit Roasting
Pit roasting is cooking meat in a large, level hole dug
in the earth. A hardwood fire is built in the pit, and
is allowed to burn until the wood reduces and the
pit is half filled with burning coals. Pit cooking may
require 10 to 12 hours or more and is difficult to
There are many variables such as outdoor temperature, the size and thickness of the meat, and
how fast the coals are cooking. A meat thermometer
must be used to determine whether the food is fully
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service
website at www.fsis.usda.gov.