Grilling Season Food Safety

Now that it is officially summer, it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy your favorite summertime meals.  But before you start stacking your shish-kabobs and rubbing down baby back ribs, it is important to remember food safety.  (After all, you want your family to remember enjoyable barbeques… not getting sick!)

When handling raw meat and vegetables, it is important to wash your hands first.  A good way to remember how long to wash your hands is to sing “Happy Birthday,” which is approximately twenty seconds long (CDC, 2013).  In addition to clean hands, use clean utensils and serving platters for cutting and placing meat on a grill.  Use a different knife and serving platter before and after the meat is grilled to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria (Burtness, 2013).

The most important thing you can do to ensure you and your family’s safety is to have a meat thermometer.  The temperature indicated by the thermometer is more accurate than looking at the color of the meat (Driessen, 2013).The University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service has created a grilling temperature and time chart that has various meats listed. Use this list as a reference the next time your family grills.  After meat has grilled to the correct temperature, do not let it sit out for longer than two hours or bacteria can spread and you risk becoming sick.  If it is hotter than 90 degrees outside, food is only safe for one hour (Burtness, 2013).

Enjoy the summer with your favorite grilled recipes and these grilling safety tips.  For more food safety tips, visit the University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Food Safety website.


Burtness, C.A. (2013). Safe grilling guidelines. University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control (2013). When & how to wash your hands. Retrieved from

Driessen, S. (2013).  Got a grill? Get a thermometer! University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from