Food Safety is Sexy: Your Guide To The Cookout
Just in time for the holiday weekend comes some great tips on how to make sure the food you serve is safe and free of all illness causing bacteria. It’s a touchy subject, but someone has to cover it. We know you have the best barbecue pork ribs recipe in all the lands, but do you actually know the proper food safety behind it? The truth is that between freezing and about 165 degrees, the meat you’re cooking is teeming with bad types of germs that can cause someone serious illness if not killed off. Plus, since bacteria grows in high temperatures, in that time between the fridge and just about done, those little guys are multiplying and growing like nobody’s business. That’s why it is so extremely important to do a few things to make sure the food you eat and serve is cooked to perfection. Honestly, most food safety experts would say to either not eat it or to bring and prepare your own meat but we know that’s not entirely realistic if not a little over-paranoid. All it takes is a few easy and painless steps to make sure that the meat you’re putting out there is cooked to bacteria-free perfection. I mean, everyone likes barbecue, but no one even comes close to remotely liking food poisoning. Be smart and follow our basic rules.
Your Meat Thermometer is Your Best Friend
In truth, no meat should really be cooked without a meat thermometer. You’re more than welcome to cut into all of the 30 burgers you plan on preparing but I’m letting you know, there is an easier way. It’s about 3 inches long, weighs practically nothing and can tell you a boat load about what exactly is going on in your chicken breast or pork chop. Also, you don’t have to worry about drying everything out with that one little slice. Look up what the done temperature and approximate cook time is beforehand so you know what you have to reach and then just sit back and relax. There are so many different factors that go into cooking meat on the grill and the food thermometer is pretty much your only fail proof method. For example, even if your chicken or burger or chicken burger is completely charred on the outside, the inside temperature could very well still not be high enough to ensure safe eating. Say it with me, “your meat thermometer is your best friend.”
As long as you follow directions of what type of meat and amount of it, timing can be almost as effective as a meat thermometer. It’s definitely good to do both so you don’t have to constantly hover over the grill in hot, humid heat. That’s no one’s idea of a good time.
Raw Meat and Cooked Meat Do Not Mix
They’re not best friends. They’re not even acquaintances. Do not ever, ever, ever put cooked meat anywhere near raw meat or the byproduct of raw meat. You know that plate you used to carry the meat out? Well, don’t use it to put the cooked stuff on it. Grab another one. My rules for handling raw meat are simple: anything you touched, anything it touched, anything it spilled or splattered, clean it up. Also, wash your hands every time you even think you may have touched raw meat. Don’t think twice. There’s no point in messing with that stuff.
Don’t Leave Food Out
For too long, that is. In any temperature below 90 degrees, food is OK to leave out for about two hours. Any longer than that and you should throw it in the refrigerator, have a cooler prepared or use some sort of method to keep the food hot. For those of you who may be dealing with temperatures above that, you’ve got about an hour before it needs to take cover. This goes especially for meat. That veggie shish kabob you made is mostly likely going to be OK for a little longer than that. Cold foods, especially those made with dairy products, are to be treated like meat. Milk can turn fast too so if you have an inkling it’s been a little too long, it probably has. Put it back in the fridge to ensure you get to eat that coconut cream pie for breakfast in the morning.
Now that you’re all good on food safety tips, you can spend more time working on your perfect cookout playlist.