As many of us fire up the grill during the holiday weekend, a southwestern Iowa dietitian urges everyone to follow the proper safety precautions.
Emily Furst, a registered dietician at Montgomery County Memorial Hospital in Red Oak, says the process to proper food safety begins at the grocery store.
“It’s very important we take care of the food before we take it to the grill,” Furst says. “When you go to the grocery store, make sure you get all your meat in one bag and other groceries in another bag so they are not cross-contaminating.”
If you transfer your raw burgers, brats, chicken and other meat products to a cooler, Furst says to make sure they stay below 40 degrees.
“I know it’s hard sometimes when you are taking a whole bunch of things to a cookout or picnic,” Furst says. “Just making sure that you’re packed and ready to go and keeping everything safe.”
Furst says constantly washing your hands, as well as cleaning utensils like tongs, spatulas and grills is also a good safety measure. Using a separate meat thermometer is also recommended, even if the grill you are using already has one.
“As time goes on with a grill, it’s not as safe and might not be as accurate,” she says, “especially if water gets in there.”
It’s recommended whole cuts of beef, pork and lamb are cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees as well as fish. Hamburgers and other ground beef products should be cooked to at least 160 degrees while all poultry and pre-cooked meats such as hot dogs should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If there are leftovers, Furst urges we store and put away the food in a timely manner to prevent cross-contamination or food poisoning.
By Trevor Maeder, KMA, Shenandoah