Cookout barbecue credit Creative Commons flickr user YummyPorkyFood safety smarts for cookouts

Posted on August 24, 2012

Labor Day weekend – a holiday celebrated by cookouts, camping and family gatherings – is right around the corner.  On a warm afternoon, there’s nothing better than hanging out with friends in the backyard, toasting out the summer with a mouth-watering grilled meal and a cold drink.

Cooking outside requires extra planning and precautions to make sure that your get-together isn’t tainted by spoiled food. Bacteria like E. Coli and salmonella grow most rapidly when food is left out of the refrigerator too long, not properly cooked, or not properly stored in the first place.

Here are some common-sense tips to keep your cookouts healthy and happy.

  • As in any food preparation, wash your hands, utensils and work areas completely.
  • If you are planning on bringing take-out food, eat it within two hours of pickup. Hot food left at room temperature, or higher, for more than two hours is unsafe to eat.
  • Foods you plan on barbecuing should be thoroughly chilled and packed in ice prior to cooking. They should remain at 40°F or lower.
  • When removing cooked foods – especially meat – after barbecuing, put them on a clean plate - not the same dish that contained the uncooked product.
  • If you are bringing a cooler to a picnic or barbecue, store it in your air-conditioned vehicle, and then keep it in shaded area with the lid closed.
  • Cook to proper temperatures. Foods need to be cooked at the right temperature to kill bacteria that cause illness.  
  • Refrigerate leftover foods promptly as cold temperatures keep bacteria from growing. Never defrost food at room temperature. Instead, thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in a microwave oven.

Happy Labor Day!

Blogged by Katie Crommett

Image credit

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The information written about in this blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek care from a medical professional when you have a health concern.