Barbecue and Grilling
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who
purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products
for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping
foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Gertie Hurley with the Food Safety and
Inspection Service. I'm your host for this segment. With me today is Kathy Bernard from
the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. Welcome to the show, Kathy.
Thank you Gertie. I‘m pleased to be here.
Barbecuing and grilling are popular with many cooks year round. Whenever you
barbecue or grill food it is important to be food safe in handling, preparing and cooking
the food. Kathy, “What grilling and barbecuing guidelines should we keep in mind?
The simple messages of clean, separate, cook, and chill apply to the grilling and barbecuing
seasons. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill can brown quickly on the outside - so it is
important to use a food thermometer to be sure that the food has reached a safe minimum
What if I want to partially cook my meat in the microwave before I put it on the grill.
Is that a safe thing to do?
Yes, partial cooking in the microwave is a good way to reduce the grilling time. So it
is safe, but make sure that the food goes onto the preheated grill immediately to complete
the cooking. Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking
We also need a clean platter for the cooked food right?
That’s right Gertie. Don't put the grilled food on the same platter or cutting board that
held raw meat or poultry because any harmful bacteria present in the raw juices could
contaminate the safely cooked food.
Kathy, could you give us examples of safe cooking temperatures for barbecuing and grilling?
USDA recommends cooking ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F.
Other meats such as: beef, veal and lamb, steaks and roasts should be cooked to a safe
minimum internal temperature of 145 °F; pork to a safe minimum internal temperature of
160 °F, and poultry, casseroles and leftovers should reach a safe minimum internal temperature
of 165 °F.
Kathy, I know that it is just as important to keep food at a safe temperature at picnics
and cookouts as it is at home. How soon should we chill food when we are cooking outdoors?
That’s right Gertie. Too often, food is prepared and left to sit out while guests continue
to munch over the course of several hours. However, bacteria can start to grow on perishable
food that has been sitting out too long. It’s important to keep hot food hot and cold
food cold. Hot food should be kept hot at 140 °F or above in chafing dishes, slow cookers
or warming trays, and cold food can be kept cold at 40 °F or below with ice packs or ice
Perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. And if the temperature is
above 90 °F – which is common at summer picnics – perishable foods shouldn't sit out more
than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has
sat out too long.
That’s it for this session. We’ve been talking to Kathy Bernard from the USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline Thank you Kathy for your good advice on safe barbecuing and grilling.
I feel like having some barbecue tonight. I'm Gertie Hurley. I’d like to thank you for
joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home” and remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free meat and poultry hotline
at 1-888-mphotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.