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 meat, 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 Jeff White with the Food Safety and Inspection
Service. I’m your host for this segment. Today we will be learning about the safe way to marinate meat and poultry.
Let’s join a couple of friends as they shop for dinner.
Let’s check out our options at the meat counter.
Wow! That beef tenderloin looks great! Oh… but a little pricy…
What about the chuck steak, flank steak, or the top round?
I don’t know, they are always so tough when cooked on the grill.
We can marinate the steak to tenderize it, it’ll be perfect!
All of the different cuts of meat sound good, but let’s try the chuck steak today. How will
marinating it make it tender?
A marinade consists of cooking oil, spices and an acid, such as vinegar, lemon juice or wine.
As the food sits in the mixture, the acid and the oil impart the savory flavors of the spices
into the steak. The acid in the marinade allows the meat to absorb more liquid and make it
But won’t it take a long time to marinate?
Oh no, not at all, you can marinate for as little as 30 minutes or you can marinate chicken up
to 2 days and beef up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
How do you know all this?
I looked it up online. I found a great web site –www.fsis.usda.gov.
That’s USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS for short.
Let’s give marinating a try!
Now that we’ve shopped and purchased everything we need for a good marinade, let me tell you
more about what I learned. The acid in a marinade such as vinegar, wine or lemon juice can
tenderize the meat, but too much acid will have an opposite effect, and cause the meat to be
tough or stringy.
So then, how much marinade will we need?
We will need approximately ½ cup of marinade per pound of meat. But here are a few important
- The best containers for marinating are stainless steel, glass and food- grade plastic,
bowls or bags.
- Remember to cover the meat completely with marinade and always make sure your
container has a tight lid or seal.
- Always marinate in the refrigerator.
- Never use the leftover marinade as a sauce for the meat, unless you bring it to a boil
first for 1 minute, to destroy any bacteria which might be present.
Boy, the FSIS Web site is a wealth of information!
I can’t wait to try the steak!
I’ll prepare the grill while the meat is marinating.
Wow, looks great! Is it done marinating?
Yes, it is. Is the grill nice and hot?
Yes, it’s ready. Let’s wash our hands before we prepare dinner.
OK, time to take the steak out to the grill. Oh! Another thing I learned from FSIS’s Web site,
is never put the cooked steak back on the plate that held the raw steak. That’s called
cross-contamination. Someone could get sick if that happened.
“Is it done yet?” it smells great and looks perfect. All nice and golden brown.
Did you know that “golden brown” is not an indication as to whether it the food is safe. I
learned that on the FSIS Web site too. The only way to know if it is safe to eat is to use a
food thermometer. Beef steaks should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145
degrees F, as measured with a food thermometer to be sure it is safe to eat.
Great information, but better yet, this steak is fabulous! We will definitely try this again!
You can find all of this information, and so much more by visiting the FSIS Web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. Or visit us online for assistance from our virtual representative “Ask
Karen” at askkaren.gov.
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. That’s
That’s it for this week. We’ve been talking about safe marinating. I’m Jeff White and I’d like
to thank you for joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home.” And remember, “Be Food
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 askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.