July is National Grilling Month! As temperatures get hotter, there’s nothing like outdoor grilling and soaking up the sunshine!
However, food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish. Prevent harmful bacteria from making an appearance at your next cookout and follow simple steps for a safe and enjoyable grilling season.
Food Safety – The Danger Zone
Eating outdoors in warm weather presents a food safety challenge. Bacteria in food multiply faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, so summer heat makes the basics of food safety especially important.
Food Safety Steps: Separate – Chill – Clean – Cook
Hands. Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
Grill and tools. Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last, right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
- Learn about foodborne pathogens, cross contamination, cold and hot food safety, and best practices to prevent foodborne illness.
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Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
- 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
- 145°F – fish
- 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
- Smoking: 250°F – 300°F – inside smoke
- After Grilling: 140°F or warmer – until it’s served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90°F outside).
Whether you’re a weekend-only griller, or you fire up the grill on a daily basis, keep your summer food safe with important principles and procedures.
National Fire Protection Association Grilling Safety Tips
This grilling season, the NFPA demonstrates the proper way to use your grill safely to prevent fires.
Additional Food Safety Resources
- Grill it Safe When Cooking Outdoors E-Card (Aug 2013; PDF)
- Grill it Safe Card (PDF) | Side 1, JPG | Side 2, JPG
- En Español: Side 1, JPG | Side 2, JPG
- Four Steps to Food Safety from our Founding Fathers (Flickr)
- Barbecue and Food Safety | PDF | En Español | En Español PDF
- Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook (PDF, Single Page, 3.3mb) | PDF, Facing Pages (2.8mb) | Alternate Text-Only Version
- Is It Done Yet? | PDF | En Español
- Tailgating Food Safety Q & A | PDF
- More Seasonal Fact Sheets
Videos & Video News Releases
- USDA Tips for Safe Summer/July 4 Grilling (Jun 26, 2012)
- USDA Joins Grill Sergeants For Safe BBQ Advice (May 22, 2012; YouTube)
- Safe Summer Grilling (Jul 2010; WMV) | En Español | ASL
- Visit Us on YouTube
USDA News Releases
- Declare Independence from Foodborne Illness this Fourth of July (Jun 27, 2012)
- USDA Wants Families to “Grill It Safe” This Memorial Day Weekend (May 24, 2012)
- Score a Food Safety Touchdown at Your Super Bowl XLVI Party (Feb 1, 2012)
- Begin the Summertime Grilling Season with a Food Safety Home Run (May 26, 2011)
- USDA: Referee a Safe Super Bowl Party (Jan 27, 2011)
- Four Food Safety Tips for the Fourth! How to Protect Your Family from a Surprising July 4th Danger (Jul 2, 2012)
- Don’t Get Burned by Foodborne Illness this Memorial Day (May 26, 2012)
- Grilling Food Safety 101 (FoodSafety.gov) (May 21, 2012)
- Follow FSIS on Twitter | En Español