Tips on keeping foods safe outdoors
The summer months bring families together for family vacation and outdoor cooking. From family reunions to meeting up with old friends, there’s always a reason to cook out. Follow these tips when cooking outdoors to keep your family well during your outdoor gathering:
- If you’re heading for a picnic or event, prepare as much food as you can at home, where you have access to good refrigeration. Bring along only the foods you think you will need.
- When grilling, separate, don’t cross-contaminate.
- Pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs. A full cooler maintains its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled.
- Use a separate cooler to hold hot foods such as fried chicken. Heat a brick in the oven to 350° F, wrap it in a towel (to protect the cooler) and put it in the bottom of the cooler. Your cooler is now a hot holding unit.
- Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight.
- When transporting food or storing it, either keep your hot food hot (130° F or above) or keep it really cool (40° F or below) along with your cold dishes like coleslaw and potato salad.
- Before transporting or storing cooked food in tightly closed containers, cool it down to 40° F in an ice bath or the fridge. If the food is bulky or in a deep pan, break it into smaller portions to reduce the amount of time it takes to chill it.
- Cook meat properly!
- Use a metal-stem food thermometer with a range of 0° F to 220° F (available at most retail stores) to make sure cooked food reaches a safe internal temperature.
- Fully cook hamburgers to an internal temperature of 160° F, until all traces of pink are gone and any juices from the meat are clear.
- Cook veal or pork to an internal temperature of at least 155° F.
- Cook large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks to 155° F for medium rare or 160° F for medium. It is safe to eat steaks rare provided the exterior is seared to an external temperature of 155° F on a hot grill.
- Cook ground poultry (chicken or turkey) and whole poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165° F.
- Cook whole fish fillets to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F. Cooked fish should look opaque and flake easily
- When taking foods off the grill, never put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food (unless it has been washed with hot, soapy water first).
- Serve hot foods right off the grill if possible.
- In hot weather, never let food sit out for more than one hour — put it back in on ice or in the refrigerator.
Tips courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.