July 2, 2009

Food Agency: Drills of the grill

July Fourth backyard chefs should know the drills of the grill, U.S. government food safety experts say, especially during hot weather.

Safe food handling is always important, Alfred Almanza of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service in Washington says in a statement. But during the warm summer months -- peak grilling season -- there is an increased need for awareness of safe food handling practices.

The agency's food safety experts recommend to:

-- Grill relatively thin cuts of meat or poultry. Tender cuts grill best. The lid should stay open, unless the grill is being used as a smoker.

-- Use a food thermometer to determine the temperature of the meat or poultry. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops may be cooked to 145 F. Ground beef, veal, lamb and all cuts of pork to 160 F. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F.

-- When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Putting safely cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry could contaminate it with harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices.

-- Refrigerate leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours, or one hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 F.