The Best Way to Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend: Grill it Safely!

We are quickly approaching Memorial Day weekend, a time for family picnics, community BBQs, and the first dip at the pool and most importantly a time to voice our appreciation for our sons and daughters – servicemen and women past and present – and we thank them for their service. Memorial Day is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year, kicking off the beginning of summer and all of the fun that follows. But before you start up the grill, light the charcoal, or pack the picnic, take my advice:  the best way to enjoy your Memorial Day weekend is to grill it safe and remember a few key food safety tips from our founding fathers:

  1. Clean

  2. Cook

  3. Separate

  4. Chill

These are just four easy food safety steps that can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness [See Be Food Safe with Win Video]. 

When it comes to summer grilling, “cooking” is a critical and important step.  Foodborne illness is often caused by the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, like undercooked burgers. It is necessary to make sure that food is fully cooked before eating it. So, don’t just look at the burgers and BBQ chicken on the grill—use a food thermometer to determine if the food is really fully cooked to a safe internal temperature. 

The safe internal temperature of meat is not a “one temperature fits all;” it depends on the type of meat being cooked. Minimum safe internal temperatures for specific foods are:

  • Steak: 145 °F

  • Fish: 145 °F

  • Ground Beef (e.g., hamburger): 160 °F

  • Chicken Breasts: 165 °F

  • Pork: 145 °F

Keep Summer Outdoor Cooking Safe

According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas and charcoal grills cause an average of 1,500 structure fires and 4,200 outdoor fires in or on home properties. With summer approaching, these numbers should be of concern to anyone that may want to use the grill.  Check out the safe grilling tips from the National Safety Council

So, keeping your family and friends safe and healthful this summer is easy; just remember the four key steps: clean, cook, separate, and chill, and you should be good to go! For more information on grilling food safety or how to have a safe picnic, visit foodsafety.gov.