With cookout season under way, UGA Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Judy Harrison has some tips to help keep guests safe from food-borne illness.
• Wash your hands before touching food and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood or eggs. If the location where you are grilling has no running water or soap, take disposable hand wipes and hand sanitizer. You also can use disposable gloves when handling raw items.
• Always keep the food-preparation area clean and use clean utensils. If working outside, take aluminum foil or disposable plates to use as a clean preparation surface and have plenty of disposable utensils on hand.
• Always keep foods separate. Keep contaminated surfaces and raw food and their juices from coming in contact with foods that already are cooked or ready to eat. Use a clean plate when removing cooked meats from the grill. Do not put the cooked meat on the plate you used to bring raw meat to the grill.
• Meat or poultry cooked on the grill can brown quickly on the outside. Use a food thermometer to make sure it reaches the proper temperature. Ground beef should reach at least 160 degrees F in the center; ground poultry should reach at least 165 degrees; whole cuts of beef, veal or lamb should reach at least 145 degrees for medium rare or 160 degrees for medium done; and pork chops and pork loins should reach 160 degrees.