A food safety scientist tells us we need to bring a meat thermometer to our 4th of July cookout – and any BBQ really – for our own health.
Doug Powell – food safety scientist and creator of barfblog.com – says he takes a thermometer to every summer cookout and tells us to get into the habit of doing the same. He wants us all to leave the barbecue as healthy as when we arrived.
Where’s the beef? I need to take its temperature.
You can’t tell if a burger is cooked by its color. Even darkly seared meat on the outside can harbor foodborne illness. Slicing it in half and eyeballing it doesn’t help either.
Insert a meat thermometer sideways, or through the top. Beef burgers should reach 160° in order to kill germs. Its the internal temperature that matters.
And its not just burgers.
The same is true of all meats. Test the internal temperature to be sure it’s cooked.
You should cook any meat over 2″ thick using indirect heat. (This means you use a 2 Zone Fire where one side of your BBQ is lit and the other side is not. For more information, see our article How to Grill Like a Pitmaster: BBQ Tips from Chris Lilly.) You sear & slide: sear the meat on both sides over direct heat and then slide it over to the indirect heat side to finish cooking.
Always slice your own cantaloupe and keep it refrigerated.
More than 260 people were ill in a salmonella outbreak in 2012 with almost 100 hospitalized and 3 deaths due to cantaloupe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The soft, bumpy skin of the cantaloupe soaks up bacteria like a sponge and washing doesn’t make a difference.
When you cut through a cantaloupe it carries the bacteria from the skin to the edible flesh. Keeping it refrigerated is the key because the cold temperatures slow the bacteria’s growth.
NEVER buy a cantaloupe already sliced in half at the grocery store. Powell says leaving them wrapped in plastic in the produce aisle is “a microbiological disaster waiting to happen.”
You need a cooler at your picnic.
Always use a cooler when away from home to keep cantaloupe, potato salad, egg salad sandwiches and other picnic foods cold so bacteria doesn’t get a chance to grow.
But good news – you don’t have to be afraid of mayonnaise anymore. Powell says, “commercial mayo uses pasteurized eggs and has high levels of vinegar and the acid content controls bacteria growth.”
So there you have it. Do you want to be popular or healthy this 4th of July? You decide.
Want more? See all of our 4th of July Cookout recipes.
Awesome July 4th recipes with a little flair to wow the Independence Day crowd. Desserts to cool off & sweeten. Grilling recipes and tips to make it easy & fun to feed the hungry masses.
Want more? See our new 4th of July recipes & party ideas in our weekly Merrymaker Magazine.
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