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USDA: Food safety belongs on the grill

There’s nothing better than gathering around the grill to prepare a good meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to remind you of these rules of food safety this grilling season.

Wash Your Hands

USDA recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. In our recent consumer research study (PDF, 49 KB), 97% of participants who attempted to wash their hands failed to wash them properly. Additionally, 56% of participants didn’t attempt to wash their hands at all during meal preparation. Most participants in this study claimed that they always wash their hands before preparing food; but in reality, most failed to wash their hands properly when observed.

Use a Food Thermometer

You can’t see, smell, or taste germs that can cause foodborne illness. USDA doesn’t recommend tasting food to check if it’s fully cooked. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure that your food is fully cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. When grilling ground meats (beef, pork, veal or lamb), make sure they reach an internal temperature of 160 F on a food thermometer. Ground poultry is safe to eat once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 F.

Avoid Cross Contamination

Cross contamination is one of the main causes of foodborne illness. Here are some tips:

  • Use separate cutting boards—one for raw meat and poultry, and the other for fruits and vegetables.
  • USDA recommends not washing meat products, because bacteria can spread from the meat onto your sink and kitchen surfaces.
  • Use separate plates while grilling—one for bringing raw meat and poultry to the grill, and the other for removing cooked meat and poultry off the grill.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email to reach a food safety expert or chat live at from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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