For Safe Grilling, Use a Meat Thermometer

It’s the Fourth of July and you’re ready to have your friends and family over for a barbeque. You’re setting up your grill and going down your checklist. Meat? Check. Buns? Check. Beer? Check. Meat thermometer….?

What’s that? No thermometer?

Halt.

Go over to your kitchen right now and pull out that meat thermometer that’s been hiding in the junk drawer since two Thanksgivings ago. If you don’t have one, run to the grocery store and get one before you forget because you will be almost certainly be distracted when your guests arrive and and will end up relying on the false security of your vision.

According to the USDA’s Federal Safety and Inspection Service website, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. So, use that thermometer. Here is info from the website, followed by other important reminders:

USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal
Temperatures

Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Note that allowing meat to “rest” (which means waiting at least 3 minutes after pulling the meat off of the heat source, usually covered with foil) allows the temperature and “doneness” to even out.

Avoid using wooden cutting boards when handling meat, particularly if it is raw or potentially undercooked. Instead, use at least two dishwasher-safe, plastic cutting boards (one for meat and one for
vegetables).

DO NOT cross-contaminate. I repeat DO NOT cross-contaminate. That applies to working surfaces and marinades, too. Do not brush meat that is cooking on the grill with the same liquid your raw meat was sitting in. Instead, prior to mixing the marinade with the meat, save a portion of it for use on the grill.

So have fun and enjoy your time with friends/family, but protect them by following the guidelines above.

Have a Happy (and Safe) Fourth of July!

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About Linda Pourmassina, MD

Internal Medicine physician.
This entry was posted in Patient education/tips, Public Health and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to For Safe Grilling, Use a Meat Thermometer

  1. First, just let me say that I love this post! Please re-publish every Memorial Day, Fathers Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    When it comes to meat … temperature matters. As do issues related to cross-contamination.

    My first job was in a hospital kitchen, I was a Nursing Home Administrator for 8 years, and I’m married to a Registered Dietitian. Everything that you state is right on the money.

    One thing that I’d like to add to your listed suggestions is the importance of repeated hand washing while handling raw meat. Most people don’t really understand how important that is … or how to do it. To get my kids to effectively wash their hands I always told them that while doing so they should slowly sing the “Happy Birthday” song to themselves … twice!

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