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. Im Kathy Bernard with the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and Ill be your host for this segment. With me today is Gwen Hyland, technical information specialist from FSIS Food Safety Education Staff.
Gwen and I will discuss how to stay food safe when cooking outside.
Hello Gwen, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Kathy, its a pleasure to be here.
People love to cook outdoors, whether its frying turkeys in the fall for Thanksgiving or grilling burgers and hotdogs over the summer months. Cooking outdoors is great fun but dont forget the safe food handling basics. A few easy steps will ensure that everyone will enjoy their outdoor meal.
Gwen, lets start at the grocery store.
When purchasing raw meat or poultry items, place them in clear plastic bags and keep them separate from other foods in your shopping cart to guard against cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when the juices from raw meat or poultry drip on to other foods. Also, be sure to select these items last, just before you check out. That way they will stay colder during your drive home.
Is this related to the two-hour rule? Tell us more about that.
Well Kathy, yes it is. The two-hour rule relates to all meats and poultry, raw or cooked. These should be refrigerated within two hours of purchase or cooking -- one hour if the temperature is ninety degrees Fahrenheit or above. If you arent able to get these perishables into the fridge in time, a cooler filled with ice is a good substitute. The key is to keep these items cold.
At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won't be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
Can you grill meat or poultry from the frozen state?
Yes, but if you thaw meat completely before grilling youll get more even cooking. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on a heated grill.
How can you safely pack food for cooking away from home?
When taking food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at forty degrees Fahrenheit or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.
Once were ready for our cook-out, whether its in the backyard or a picnic site across town, what do we need to remember?
Well Kathy, you should be sure to wash your hands before any cooking adventure, whether at home or in the park, and make sure you have plenty of clean utensils and platters AND take along your food thermometer!
If you're eating away from home, find out if there's a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths, and wet towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate food that has been safely cooked.
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated or in your cooler until ready to use. Take out only the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.
When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Try packing beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
Now, are we ready to cook?
Yes, cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Grilled meat and poultry often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Thats why a food thermometer is a most important tool for grilling and cooking meat and poultry. It will determine if your food is thoroughly cooked, because color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
Is this where the clean plate comes in?
Yes, as cooked meat is taken off the grill, it should be placed on a clean plate to avoid the juices from raw meat or poultry, which can cross-contaminate the cooked meat.
Now we can eat! Come and get it!
Thanks so much Gwen for joining me today and giving our listeners tips on safe outdoor cooking. Is there anything else you would like to add before we conclude?
Chill leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours, or one hour, if the temperature is ninety degrees Fahrenheit or above.
You can learn more about food safety at cookouts and find the recommended safe minimum internal cooking temperatures on the FSIS Web site at w-w-w dot f-s-i-s dot u-s-d-a dot g-o-v, or by visiting our virtual representative Ask Karen. Thats A-s-k-K-a-r-e-n dot g-o-v.
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at one, eight, eight, eight, MPHotline (1-888-MPHotline). Thats one eight, eight, eight, six, seven, four, six, eight, five, four (1-888-674-6854).
Thats all for this weeks segment. Weve been talking to Gwen Hyland from FSIS Food Safety Education Staff.
Im Kathy Bernard, and Id also 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
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Thanks for tuning in.