Barbecuing and Grilling

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Barbecuing and grilling are popular with many cooks in the summer. Whenever you barbecue or grill food it is important to handle, prepare and cook foods safely. The simple message of clean, separate, cook and chill apply to the grilling and barbecuing season. 

Cook food thoroughly. 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 internal temperature. 

145 degrees F for Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops

160 degrees F for Hamburgers, beef

160 degrees F for Pork, all cuts

165 degrees F for Poultry, all cuts

If a thermometer is not available, make sure hamburgers are brown all the way through. Partial cooking in the microwave, oven or stove is a good way to reduce the grilling time. Make sure that the food goes onto the preheated grill immediately to complete the cooking. Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later. 

Marinate food in the refrigerator, not out on the counter. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a separate portion before marinating the raw meat. 

Keep raw food separate from cooked food. 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 foods.

It’s important to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Hot food should be kept hot at 140 degrees F or above in chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays, and cold food can be kept cold at 40 degrees F or below with ice packs or ice sources underneath.

Perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours—not more than one hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been out too long. 

Find out more about safe summer grilling from Extension resources at www.extension.org/pages/Safe_Summer_Grilling and from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates.

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences