We love to grill foods for holidays, family gatherings and special occasions all year-round. Summer is especially popular for outdoor meals, picnics and barbecues.
As you prepare, cook and serve food remember the following precautions from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to protect against foodborne illnesses:
Be sure meat and poultry is cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature necessary to destroy harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. Recommended cooking temperatures are:
* 145 degrees for beef, veal and lamb steaks and roasts.
* 160 degrees for ground-beef hamburgers and cuts of pork.
* 165 degrees at minimum for poultry but 180 degrees is better to remove pink appearance and rubbery texture.
Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking at a later time.
The next important step is to keep hot foods hot. After cooking, keep foods hot until served — at least 140 degrees or warmer.
Set cooked meats to the cooler side of the grill rack to keep from overcooking. Monitor with a clean food thermometer until serving time arrives.
When you are at home, place them in a 200-degree oven. Use a preheated slow cooker, warming tray or chafing dish to keep food hot and serve it safely.
Use a clean platter or tray for transporting cooked foods from the grill to serving pieces or plates. Harmful bacteria from raw meat and poultry can contaminate safely cooked food, reports UGA Cooperative Extension.
If you are grilling away from home, have a clean water source or bring potable water for preparation, cleaning and hand-washing. Pack clean cloths, paper towels and hand wipes, too.
Don’t let food sit out during the gathering for more than two hours, and only one hour when temperatures are above 90 degrees. Immediately place leftovers, which haven’t exceeded these time limits, in shallow containers in the refrigerator or coolers with adequate ice. Cut large pieces of cooked meat and poultry into smaller portions to speed cooling.
Reheat any fully cooked leftover meats and poultry on the grill to 165 degrees before serving.
Don’t let foodborne illness ruin your reputation as a great outdoor cook. Pay attention to the food safety rules and be assured the food served is safe and delicious.
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The Georgia Mountain Food Bank is continuing its Summer Lunch Bag Program. Volunteers assemble 500 to 600 sack lunches weekdays in June and July. Youth, student and church groups and civic and corporate organizations may volunteer to help.
Hours are 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. GMFB is at 1642 Calvary Industrial Drive SW in Gainesville.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-534-4111.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. She may be contacted at 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.