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Avoiding foodborne bacteria while grilling in the summer heat

Health experts say food should be refrigerated after one hour if it’s more than 90 degrees outside.

TAMPA, Fla. — With news of a possible Listeria outbreak linked to Florida, food safety is top of mind for a lot of families – especially while cooking in the summer heat.

The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent foodborne germs flourishing at your Fourth of July barbeque.

Here are some food safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep in mind as you fire up the grill.

Separate: Starting at the grocery store, meat, chicken and other poultry should be kept separate from your other food. It’s a good idea to put packages of raw meat into individual plastic bags.

Chill: Meat, poultry and seafood should always be kept refrigerated until it’s time to grill. If you have to transport it in a cooler, the meat should be kept at 40 degrees or below.

Avoid bringing meats to room temperature: Food should be thawed in the refrigerator, microwave or by running it under cold water. Food should never be left on the counter to thaw or marinate as germs can multiply quickly at room temperature. And remember to throw out any sauces or marinades that touched raw meat.

Clean before you cook: A moist cloth or paper towel should be used to clean your grill surface before cooking. You can use a wire brush, just look to make sure that bristles don’t dislodge and stick to food on the grill.

You should always wash your hands, work surfaces and utensils before cooking, too.

Use a thermometer: Color isn’t a reliable way to make sure meat is cooked enough to kill harmful germs.

When grilling, use a food thermometer to bring:

  • Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving)
  • Fish to 145 degrees 
  • Hamburgers and ground beef to 160 degrees
  • Chicken, poultry and pre-cooked meats like hot dogs to 165 degrees

When smoking meats, the temperature inside the smoker should be between 225 and 300 degrees.

Get that food to the fridge: Food should be put in a fridge or freezer within two hours of cooking, or one hour if it's more than 90 degrees outside.

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