Expert Advice

How do you keep food safe to eat outside in hot weather?

It’s the time of the year for barbeques, picnics and festivals, and whatever your plans are this summer, it’s likely you’ll do some outdoor cooking and eating. Keeping food safe when you’re eating outside isn’t difficult, but it does take some preparation. Here are some tips you can use to make sure no one leaves your party feeling sick.

While grilled meat is often the focus of a backyard barbeque or cookout, it can also cause problems if not handled properly. Cooking meats to the proper temperature is important because it kills bacteria that may be present in raw meat. Here are the temperatures you should be aiming for with different types of meats:

Beef steaks: 145 degrees F

Pork: 145 degrees F

Burgers and sausage: 160 degrees F

Chicken and turkey: 165 degrees F

Never let perishable food sit outside for more than two hours. And in situations where the temperature is above 90 degrees F, don’t let it sit for more than one hour. As food sits in the temperature “danger zone” (which ranges from about 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F), bacteria can develop, and the longer it sits, the more chance there is for contamination. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to keep cooked food, such as chicken or hamburgers, on the grill or in a warming tray so they stay above 140 degrees F until eaten. If cold food is on the menu, try serving it in small portions so you can keep the rest chilled in a cooler.

Another concern with outdoor cooking is cross-contamination from uncooked meat. Make sure your cooking areas are clean before you start and that you clean them after they’ve touched raw meat. Also be careful with utensils that have touched raw meat, and don’t reuse plates or bowls unless they’ve been washed.