Written by Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS
A: Summer is a great time to grill, but it is important to handle food carefully to avoid getting sick from food-borne illness such as E. Coli or salmonella. Defrost meat in the microwave or refrigerator, not at room temperature, and keep it cold until grilling it.
To avoid cross contamination, keep raw meat out of contact with foods that don’t have to be cooked, like vegetables. Wash plates and utensils that have come into contact with raw meat before using them again. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. When eating outside and the temperature is above 80°, try not to leave perishable food out for longer than an hour. Wash your hands before you handle food and after you handle raw meat, use the bathroom, change diapers, or handle pets. Cook meat thoroughly. Use a good quality meat thermometer, and cook ground beef, veal, lamb and pork to an internal temperature of 160° F, and steak to an internal temperature of 145° F for medium rare. Poultry thighs should reach an internal temperature of 180° F, and poultry breasts to 170°F.
Send questions to Ask the Surgeon General, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (type “Ask the Surgeon General” in the subject field).