BBQ Season is Here!

May 24, 2013

Barbecue season is about to kick off this weekend with Memorial Day. Here are SupermarketGuru’s five simple tips to make sure it's safe and delicious!

Barbecue season is about to kick off this weekend with Memorial Day. Enjoying the outdoors with friends and family and a little grilling is fun for everyone, as well as being a highly anticipated time of year. Unfortunately barbeque time is also the time when there is an increase in foodborne illnesses. Each summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), food safety related illnesses increase over 150 percent!

Here are SupermarketGuru’s five simple tips to make sure that your summertime BBQs, at the beach, picnic, or in your own backyard are safe for everyone:

Pack your foods carefully
Use an insulated cooler with ice packs. If you prefer a picnic basket, make sure you first line the basket with a plastic bag to help retain the cool temperature. Freeze juice boxes or portable drink cups filled with iced tea or water, as they are terrific temperature controllers. Intermingle the frozen drinks with the foods to help keep things cool. Be sure to pack a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature. Keep the cooler and all foods in the passenger compartment and out of direct sunlight. Most trunks are not air-cooled and can raise the temperature of your foods to well over 100 degrees.

Wrap and pack properly - and don’t cross contaminate 
Use portable food containers or zip top baggies to separate foods. Avoid paper bags, aluminum foil or plastic wrap where the foods can leak and cross contaminate. Never put raw and cooked foods of any kind together - or even on the same plates. If you are using a marinade never use the leftover sauce on cooked meats - you run the risk of spreading the bacteria from the raw meats (and brush) on the cooked meat.

Wash your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before cooking, handling raw foods, and before handling cooked foods. Cross contamination is one of the biggest sources of food safety issues; washing up prevents problems. If you are not near running water you can use a waterless cleaner that kills germs and bacteria instantly. Also, fill a spray bottle with water and one tablespoon of bleach to keep handy to wipe off surfaces and utensils.

Make it hot!
Make sure that all meat is cooked thoroughly. And be sure your grill is hot before you cook. Electric grills should be heated at least 15 minutes prior to cooking and gas grills at least 10 minutes. Don’t rely on a visual image thinking that meats that are brown are thoroughly cooked. Use a meat thermometer - ground beef to 160 degrees, steaks and roasts to 150, poultry to 165, fish to 145 or until opaque, shrimp/lobster/crab to 145 (internal) shell should turn red and flesh should become opaque. Hot dogs should be steaming hot to 165.

Make it cold! 
Refrigerate leftovers as soon as you can, no more than one hour after cooking, especially when it’s warm outside.

We hope you will enjoy your Memorial Day weekend with a barbeque, and remember that you can eliminate most food safety hazards by just practicing these few simple tips.