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Memorial Day 2022: Barbecue tips to keep things safe and healthy

After two years of covid-19 restrictions, Memorial Day cookouts are back on the agenda this year. Here’s how to cook food safely in the great outdoors.

Barbecue tips to keep things safe and healthy
Mattia Ozbot - InterGetty

With Memorial Day 2022 just around the corner and warm forecasts on the way for much of the country, countless Americans are expected to fire up the grill and enjoy the holiday with friends and family.

After two years of covid-19 restrictions, many will be returning to their old routines this year with a Memorial Day feast. But you should be careful with food hygiene when cooking outdoors as your set-up might not be as efficient as the kitchen stove.

Sandra Eskin, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, explains: “Following safe food handling practices during this and all other seasons can reduce the risk of you and your loved ones getting sick.”

How to cook meat safely on a grill

Grilling, whether using old fashioned wood and charcoal or a gas-powered barbeque, cooks by using direct heat to the surface of the food. It’s that contact that gives the classic grill marks on the food, but the appearance of those marks can give the false impressive of done-ness.

When grilling meat, poultry, and fish you should use a food thermometer to ensure that it is cooked through. The USDA recommends the following guideline internal temperatures:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F (after a three-minute rest time)
  • Ground meats (such as burgers and hot dogs): 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F
  • Fish: 145°F

Remember, your thermometer should reach the part of the meat that is furthest from the surface, because this is the area that will take longest to reach the required temperature.

How to store meat safely for a barbecue or outdoor cook

A barbeque is often an all-day event and that can mean that food is left out for much longer than if you were simply cooking a meal for yourself at home. The USDA advises that generally food shouldn’t be left out for more than two hours. That figure drops to one hour if the temperature outside is more than 90°F.

If you are planning to visit friends and family this Memorial Day and will be bringing food to cook there, you should invest in an insulated cooler that can keep the internal temperature below 40°F. This is also the case with trips to the park with food that would normally be required to be kept in the refrigerator at home.

If you’re the one hosting you might get the added bonus of plenty of leftovers. Make sure anything not eaten on the day is stored in sealed containers or covered in an airtight wrapping. It can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, or three to four months in the freezer.


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