Proper Grilling for the 4th of July
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. With July 4th cookouts right around the corner, it is especially important to take precautions to handle food safely and protect against foodborne illness. Here are some points to remember as food is prepared, cooked, and served up for the compliments!
Be sure meat and poultry is cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature necessary to destroy harmful bacteria. Don’t guess! Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to at least 145° F and allowed to rest for at least 3 minutes. Ground meats should be cooked to 160° F. All poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) must reach minimum of 165° F. For reasons of personal preference, it is still best to cook poultry to higher temperatures such as 180°F to remove pink appearance and rubbery texture. Ham, fresh or smoked, (uncooked) should be cooked to 145° F and allowed to rest for at least 3 minutes. Reheat fully cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140°F and all others to 165° F. Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking at a later time.
The next step is to keep hot foods hot! After the cooking is completed, keep foods hot until served, at least 140° F or warmer. Set cooked meats over to the cooler side of the grill rack to keep from overcooking and monitor with a clean food thermometer until serving time. Or at home, place them in a 200°F oven and still monitor with a clean food thermometer until serving time. You can also use a preheated slow cooker, warming tray, or chafing dish to keep food hot and serve it safely.