The first official day of summer is quickly approaching! Here in Central Florida, it feels like summer has been here for weeks now! If your family is anything like mine, summer means pool days, and a lot of outdoor grilling. I love the smell of burgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill on a hot summer night. Yum! Since grilling food tends to make preparation, cooking and cleaning up much easier, we sometimes tend to forget about food safety.
NSF International is a nonprofit organization that is committed to protecting public health and safety by developing standards and certifying products against those standards. NSF has come up with a list of grilling safety tips to make sure that food borne illness doesn't spoil our outdoor grilling meals. Whether you are a novice or a grilling expert, these tips provide sound advice for keeping your grilling fun and safe this summer!
1. Start with a Clean Kitchen: According to a swab analysis by NSF International, the kitchen sponge and kitchen sink were the germiest places in the home – items that are typically used in multiple stages of the cooking and cleaning process. Avoid cross-contamination by ensuring these items are clean by:
a. Placing wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes once per day and replacing them often - every two weeks or more as needed. A better option for kitchen cleaning are dishcloths, towels and rags. These items can be sanitized by washing on the clothes washer's hot water cycle with bleach. Replace every 1-2 days.
b. Washing and disinfecting the sides and bottom of the sink 1-2 times per week with a disinfecting cleaner. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring a solution of one teaspoon household bleach in one quart of water down the drain. Wash kitchen sink strainers in the dishwasher weekly.
2. Defrost Foods Safely. Don't attempt to defrost foods quickly by leaving them sit overnight on a kitchen counter. Use one of the following methods:
a. Option I - Place a covered food in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.
b. Option II - Defrost the food item in the microwave, but keep in mind that you must finish cooking the food immediately thereafter, as some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the microwave defrosting process.
c. Option III - If there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. However, the cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
3. Practice Proper Marinating. If marinating food, marinate in a refrigerator overnight and dispose of any leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat. While acids in marinades can help tenderize meat, too much vinegar or hot sauce can cause meat to be more stringy and tough.
4. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold Hot foods need to be kept at temperatures above 140 F and cold foods less than 40 F. Between these two temperatures, bacteria can multiply very rapidly and reach dangerous levels in as little as two hours.
5. Don’t cook with your eyes; Cook with a thermometer. In order to ensure food has reached a safe internal temperature, always use a certified food thermometer. Any leftovers should be put away within two hours (one hour if the temperature is over 90° F).
6. Avoid Cross Contamination. Since bacteria can easily spread from one food to the next via dripping juices, hands, or utensils, think ahead to avoid cross contamination. Don't use the same utensils and plates for raw and cooked foods, and always remember to wash your hands before preparing and consuming food.
With the July 4th holiday coming up, I know a lot of people will be celebrating outdoors and firing up their grills. Make sure you follow the tips above to keep your family and friends safe while cooking all of that yummy summer food!
~*~One of my readers is going to win a Safe Grilling Prize Pack!!!~*~
Prize pack includes:
NSF Certified Meat Thermometer
NSF Certified Tupperware
Mandatory entry: (This must be done in order for any optional entries to count) Tell me what you like the most about cooking on the grill. (Easy clean up, the taste of the food, etc.)
Optional entries: After you make the mandatory first entry above, you can get one extra entry (unless stated otherwise) for each of the following (please leave a separate comment for each):
* Browse the Consumer section of NSF and tell me something else you learned
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* Tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting this tweet and leaving me the link to your tweet (you can tweet daily for an extra entry each day):
Grill safely this summer with tips from NSF! Enter to #win a safe grilling prize pack from @thelifeofrylie! http://bit.ly/knIaNC #giveaway
* Post my button on your sidebar or your blog roll for TWO extra entries (leave me two comments with a link to where I can find it)
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Giveaway will end on July 4th at 9:00pm EST. The winner will be chosen by random.org. I will notify the winner by email within 24 hours, and you will have 48 hours to respond. If no response is received within that time frame, I will pick another winner. Please leave your email address or make sure it is in your profile so I will have a way to contact you. I will announce the winner once they have been confirmed. This giveaway is open to residents of the US.
Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I was not compensated in any way to write this post.