Summer is the perfect time for a barbecue. Who can resist the smell of food cooking on the grill? Did you know that a barbecue could be hazardous to your health?
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an outbreak of Salmonella, a bacterium that causes food poisoning. Each year, approximately 40,000 salmonella- infection cases are reported. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or disclosed, the CDC estimates that the actual number of infections may be twenty or more times greater. About 1,00 people die every year from salmonella poisoning.
Salmonella contamination often occurs in beef and poultry, especially when served during a barbecue when the weather’s warm. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy healthy outdoor eating:
Shopping for meat
If you’re buying a lot of groceries, make sure that you purchase meat and poultry last. Place packages of raw meat and poultry in plastic bags to prevent them from contaminating other food. When you get home, any meat or poultry that will not be used in a day or two should go immediately into the freezer.
If you’re going to take your food to another location to barbecue, keep it cold while traveling to prevent bacteria from growing. Immediately before leaving put the food into a cooler filled with ice or ice packs. Once you arrive at your destination, keep the cooler in a shady spot. Avoid opening the cooler lid too often so that it stays cold.
Although some people prefer rare meat, all meat and poultry should be cooked thoroughly to destroy harmful bacteria. Use food thermometer to make sure that food has reached a safe internal temperature and be sure that your food thermometer touches the center of the meat, The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service advises cooking food to the following internal temperatures:
* Whole poultry 180 degrees
* Poultry breast 170 degrees
* Beef hamburger 160 degrees
* Ground poultry 165 degrees
* Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roast and chops 145 degrees
* All cuts of pork 160 degrees
After you’ve handled raw meat or poultry, always thoroughly wash your hands before handling cooked meat. Dr. Bob Bogosian, president of Global Biotechnologies and renowned microbiologist and epidemiologist, advises, wash your hands often as you cook because your hands transfer 85% of all infectious organisms. When taking food off the grill, use clean platter and clean utensils to prevent a food-borne illness. Dr. Bogosian explains, washing and sanitizing items like cutting boards, knives and other food-prep surfaces prevents cross contamination with items that are not cooked, like salads. Don’t pour marinades used for raw meat over cooked food unless you boil it first to kill harmful bacteria.
Make sure your next summer barbecue is an enjoyable experience for your whole family. Take these simple precautions, then relax and enjoy dining alfresco!