The number of bacterial food poisoning cases from E. Coli and salmonella rises in the summer months because warm weather causes food to spoil more quickly, and we tend to get lax with food hygiene when cooking outdoors.
The Westchester County Health Department offers these guidelines for safe barbecuing:
—Thaw meat and poultry slowly in the refrigerator or under cold running water before cooking, and in the microwave only if the meat will be cooked immediately afterwards.
—Keep meat and poultry in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.
—Marinate in the refrigerator. If you want to use additional marinade as a sauce, boil it first to kill the bacteria, or set some aside so it does not contact raw meat.
–Only pre-cook immediately before finishing on the grill. Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
—Transport food in a cooler with ice to keep it at 40°F or below. Everything should stay chilled until it is cooked or consumed. Keep the cooler closed and in the shade. Keep beverages separate.
—Wash hands, surfaces and utensils frequently with soap and water or antiseptic wipes.
—Never use the same plate, cutting board or utensils for cooked food that you've used for raw meats and poultry.
—Use a food thermometer to be sure grilled food has reached a safe internal temperature: poultry should be 180°F in the middle; hamburgers and pork chops, 160°F; steaks, veal, and lamb chops, 145°F.
—After cooking, keep all meats 140°F or warmer until eaten. If fully cooked meats like hot dogs need to be reheated, grill them to 165°F.
—Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours after cooking, or one hour if temperature is above 90°F.
For more information, call 914- 813-5000 or visit www.westchestergov.com/health