· 3 min read
With summer here, it’s time to start heating up the grill and inviting friends and family over for some backyard barbecuing.
Summer picnics and backyard parties are tons of fun, but in warm weather, it’s important to be particularly careful about handling food safely so you and your family don’t get sick. The heat can be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
To help protect your family and guests from foodborne illnesses during the summer months, our NSF experts offered these eight tips for a safer backyard BBQ:
Keep your perishable foods — brats, hamburgers, potato salad — in individual containers, and keep them cold at the bottom of the cooler (with ice packs on top) or in the fridge until you’re ready to pop them on the grill or serve them. It’s best to keep meats in separate coolers.
Keep bottled water, soft drinks and beer in a separate cooler from your fresh and ready-to-eat foods. Try not to open the cooler too often, to keep the cold in.
If you’re a guest and bringing food to the bash, store your coolers in the passenger area instead of the trunk so the air conditioner can keep them cool.
Cooking food in advance creates more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Be sure to reheat precooked foods to at least 165° F (74° C) before serving. Use an NSF-certified thermometer.
Wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, before eating or handling food. If there’s no source of clean water, bring soap, water and paper towels or use disposable wipes or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The best ways to safely thaw meat are in the refrigerator overnight, under cold running water or in the microwave before grilling. It’s not a good idea to leave raw meat, chicken or any perishable frozen food at room temperature to thaw.
Measures to help ensure that your food reaches the picnic table safely include:
Make sure to toss out perishable foods that have been left out for longer than one hour.
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