It’s that time of year to fire up the grill, bring out those disposable cups (filled with mostly water, right?), and enjoy time with family and friends. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of grilling season, and we encourage you to follow all temperature guidelines for your grilled meats this summer. But Marianne Gravely with USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline says there are other mistakes you can make that will make you and your guests sick.
“The biggest mistake might be cross contamination. If you are carrying a plate of chicken or hamburgers to the grill, then you cook the whatever it is you’re cooking, and then if you were to put that back on the same plate that held the raw food, you could contaminate the cooked food with bacteria from the raw food. So, always have separate plates; one for the cooked foods and one for the raw food so that you don’t contaminate cooked food with bacteria.”
And after all your guests have finished eating, it’s important to get that food put away as soon as possible.
“Normally, we would say never leave food out for more than two hours, but in the summertime when it’s hot, food should not set out for more than one hour or so. Set a timer so that you know if one or two hours has passed and put the cooked foods back in the cooler.”
If you have questions, you can call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline.