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Greenwich Health Department Offers Tips On Summer Food Safety

GREENWICH, Conn. – When you fire up the grill to cook burgers, hot dogs and chicken, keep in mind these summer food safety tips from the Greenwich Health Department.

Food-borne illnesses rise during the summer, so follow these rules when cooking potentially hazardous foods:

Marinating: If you marinate raw meat, fish and poultry, use separate dishes and place them in the refrigerator – not on the counter. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a dip or basting sauce later, set aside a portion before adding raw meat or poultry to it. Don’t reuse the used marinade.

Precooking: It is safe to precook food prior to grilling, but only if the food goes immediately from the microwave or range to the grill. Think of it as all-one cooking process, and cook the meat thoroughly all at once. Interrupted cooking is risky. If you must cook ahead, cook the meat completely, refrigerate, then reheat on the grill to at least 165 degrees.

Cooking thoroughly: For safety and quality, the coals should be very hot before cooking – it may take 30 minutes or longer before the coals are showing a light coating of ash. Meat and poultry should be thoroughly cooked, and it’s best to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Whole cuts of meat, whether beef, veal or pork, must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees and allowed to rest for three minutes. Don’t eat raw or undercooked hamburgers since harmful bacteria could be present. To be sure bacteria are destroyed, cook meat patties to 160 degrees.  All poultry, whole or ground, should reach 165.

Here are some other tips on healthy cooking:

• Cook the meat thoroughly, but not so much that pieces are charred and black.

• Keep the portions small and lean.

• Trim away excess fat.

• Try precooking the meat in the oven or on the stove ahead of time, and finish it up on the grill.

• Think of meat as a side dish instead of the main course.

• Enjoy grilled meats with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grains.

• Don’t eat charred or blackened parts.

Serving: Serve hot, grilled foods immediately. Put cooked foods on clean plates that were not used to hold raw meat or poultry. Perishable foods should be consumed as soon as possible. To prevent food-borne illness, all foods should always be kept either hot or cold and should not be stored at room or outdoor temperatures for long periods of time.

Cleaning up: Clean the grill after each use and refrigerate leftovers promptly. Save leftovers only if they have been kept on ice since being cooked. Remember to reheat foods to 165 degrees before eating. When in doubt, throw it out.

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