Food Safety for Summer Grilling

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As the weather warms up, I think about the nights I spend grilling with my family. Though we grill year-round, the food seems to taste just a little bit better on warm, summer evenings. With summer approaching, it is a great time to brush up on safe food preparation and cooking methods to avoid foodborne illness so that we can enjoy cookouts with peace of mind. Before you fire up your grill, review these important food safety practices!

Wash your hands!

This is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of any harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Wash your hands before handling any food and after touching raw meats, poultry, and fish.

Storage & Thawing

  • Store raw meats, poultry, and fish away from any fresh produce or other foods.
  • Double bag these products to prevent any leaks from spreading.
  • Thaw frozen products in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Submerge frozen products in a container of cool water and change every 30 minutes until thawed.


  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meats, poultry, or fish as much as possible.
  • Sanitize all utensils, cutting boards, or surfaces that come into contact with raw food products. Utilize a dishwasher or wash diligently in hot, soapy water.
  • Marinate all foods in the refrigerator. Do not use the same marinade that has touched raw meat on cooked meat or other foods.


  • Use a food thermometer! Checking the internal temperature is the only way to ensure your food is fully cooked.
  • Safe internal cooking temperatures:
    • Poultry (ground or whole) = 165 °F
    • Ground or tenderized meat = 155 °F
    • Beef, pork, veal, lamb, or fish (whole cuts) = 145 °F
    • Commercially processed, fully cooked foods such as hot dogs = 135 °F


  • Refrigerate any perishable foods within one hour of grilling.
  • Eat leftovers within 3-4 days.

For more information on safe grilling practices, refer to this handout from our colleagues at Safe Plates. Additionally, don’t forget to round out your meal and grill some vegetables. Check out a previous blog on the Top 4 Ways to Grill Vegetables for great tips and marinade recipes. 

Happy grilling!

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