Kansas State University Food Scientist Shares Food Safety Tips for Outdoor Grilling Parties

By Trish Svoboda

With Memorial Day weekend approaching, Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee emphasizes the importance of food safety at summer parties, especially those involving outdoor grilling.

First, she advises to wash your hands before handling any food and again after handling raw meat.

Blakeslee stresses the need for a food thermometer, just as when cooking indoors. Key temperatures to remember for various meats are:

– 145°F for steaks, roasts, chops, fish, and other whole cuts of meat.

– 160°F for ground meat, including beef, pork, and lamb.

– 165°F for all types of poultry.

These temperatures apply to smoked, grilled, or indoor-cooked meats.

Blakeslee points out that the internal temperature is crucial. “Without a food thermometer, determining if meat is properly cooked is subjective,” she says. Judging by color or touch is unreliable.

For accurate measurement, insert the thermometer tip into the center of the meat. With digital thermometers, the sensor is typically in the tip, so it can be inserted from the top. Blakeslee suggests for items like hamburgers, it’s best to insert the thermometer from the side to reach the center.

Dial display thermometers are another option. “On the stem, there’s usually a dimple about halfway up. Insert the thermometer so the dimple is in the meat for an accurate reading,” she explains.

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