4 Barbecue Safety Tips from the USDA


Independence Day is just around the corner. And, if you’re like millions of Americans, you’ll spend your day grilling up some tasty foods with friends and family. It’s certainly a fun time, but it’s also important to recognize the possible dangers that exist in outdoor barbecues. Indeed, food safety is even more important in the summer, when hot temperatures foster an ideal environment for bacteria to grow at a faster rate.

Luckily, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has you covered, with their helpful guide to preventing foodborne illnesses this 4th of July holiday. Click through to check out their 4 basic tips for safer grilling. For even more information on food safety, you can download the USDA’s Ask Karen mobile phone app or check out the web version. You can also call the USDA hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.

Earlier: How to Prevent Freezer Burn

1. Keep It Clean

Just because you’re cooking outdoors doesn’t mean you have to forgo the cleaning you would do inside the house. If you don’t have access to clean water during your barbecue, you can either bring some with you or use moist towelettes and clean cloths to keep surfaces and utensils clean. Keep your hands clean with hand sanitizer.

2. Keep Everything Separate

Have plenty of clean plates, utensils and platters on hand. Don’t ever reuse platters or cutting boards that have been exposed to raw meat and poultry — if there’s harmful bacteria present, it can contaminate even safely-cooked food.

See Also: How to Cut an Onion Without Tears


3. Make Sure Food is Cooked Thoroughly

Meat and poultry can look perfectly done and safe to eat from the outside, when, internally, that’s not the case.  Use a food thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature. The USDA suggests the following internal temperatures:

  • Whole poultry: 165 °F
  • Poultry breasts: 165 °F
  • Ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.

You’ll also want to make sure that your hot food stays hot. Someone not ready for that burger? Well, you can keep it hot by placing them on the side of the grill and away from the coals.

4. Keep Food Chilled

Packing food into a cooler is the last thing you should do before leaving your home for a barbecue. Have a thermometer in your cooler, and make sure the temperature is always below 40°F. If you can, try to use one cooler for food and one cooler for drinks. That way, you’ll be able to open up your drink cooler as often as you like without exposing the food to warmer temperatures.

If it’s hot outside, make sure to keep your food in the cooler. Keep your food out of the cooler for an hour at most. If you’re not sure how long a food item has been sitting out in the sun, don’t take the risk. As the USDA says, “when in doubt, throw it out!”

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Nina S.
Nina S1 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

good but sort of common sense

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

cook it till its good and black then there will be no more germs.

Barbara Mann
Barb Mann5 years ago

Thanks for the advice! Noted and will be used!!

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B5 years ago

thanks for the tips

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B5 years ago


paul m.
paul m5 years ago


Aino Viita
Aino Viita5 years ago

great tips

Kelly R5 years ago


Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath5 years ago