Enjoy cookouts and barbecues without getting sick

DENVER — This weekend’s unofficial start to summer means hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and other great foods to share with family and friends.

But before the grilling starts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has four reminders on what to do to avoid getting food sickness.

Clean

Make sure to always wash hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry.

If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

Separate

When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.

Cook

Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food.

  • Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160 degrees.
  • All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and of beef should be cooked to 145 degrees as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, and allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A “rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
  • Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees.
  • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer you can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Chill

Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.