Safety Tips for Grilling

There are many aspects to safe grilling. One of the most important is ensuring that the food you’re grilling is stored and cooked appropriately. The last thing you want to do is serve your friends and your family undercooked or spoiled meat.

Internal Meat Temperature

The most accurate way to determine if your main entrée is safe to eat is to measure the internal temperature.

Depending on what you’re grilling, the internal temperature will vary.

When cooking meat, the USDA recommends the internal temperatures to be as follows:
  • Poultry: 165F
  • Fish: 145F
  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145F
  • Ground meat: 160F
But, not everyone likes a well-done steak, and for those people, it’s important to know the difference between the internal temperature of rare, medium, well-done and all other the levels of doneness.

The Safety of Medium-Rare Beef VS Undercooked Chicken and Pork

When grilling chicken and pork, you want to make sure that it’s completely cooked before serving it. Eating undercooked chicken or pork may not have any ill-effects, but it can cause mild to severe food poisoning, salmonellosis and/or trichinosis. So, eating undercooked chicken and pork could be a health risk.

But, a medium-rare steak with an internal temperature of 130F most likely will not cause any of the same effects as chicken or pork with the same internal temperature.

Why? Because bacteria is on the beef, not in it. Your steak is going to have bacteria over the entire surface, but after being placed on hot grill grates, the bacteria is killed.

Chicken and pork, on the other hand, is prone to parasites throughout the meat.

When cooking ground beef, such as hamburgers, make sure that it’s well done. When cooking ground beef, the bacteria get transferred from the surface to throughout the meat. If you do not cook your hamburgers thoroughly, you risk contracting E. coli. So, even if you prefer medium-rare steak, stick with well-done burgers.

Don't Let Meat Sit Out

After you remove the meat from the grill, you don’t want to leave it out for more than two hours. Even though you’ve cooked it, bacteria can still grow and thrive. And, when you go back for a half piece of steak or another chicken leg with a side of potato salad, you don’t want to have to worry about whether you’ll develop food poisoning later on.

So, the rule of thumb is after an hour, start packing up the leftovers, especially if your food is outside and the temperature is over 90F.