Avoid ‘cross contamination’ on the grill

WASHINGTON — After a long tough winter, there is welcomed warmth and many people will take advantage of it by inviting family and friends over for a good old-fashioned cookout.

But there is no faster way to end a party than by serving up a case of food poisoning.

The number-one food safety tip from nutrition expert Dr. Susan Mitchell is to “keep raw meet and fish separate from cooked items, and separate from veggies and fruit.”

The fear is spreading bacteria such as E-coli which can be found on raw meats and in some cases vegetables. Here are some quick tips:

  • After you put the burgers on the grill, Mitchell says make sure you take the plate back in the house and bring out a clean one for the cooked meat. If you fail to do that and put the cooked meat on the plate, “you’ve done what is called cross contamination,” she says.
  • Consider washing your utensils in the middle of the cook. “If you want to be extra safe and just careful across the board, I just go in and rinse them under hot, sudsy water bring them back out and use them as things are cooking,” Mitchell says.
  • With the USDA recalling tainted beef this weekend, “the number one thing that grillers are being told this weekend is to cook your burgers well done,” Mitchell says.
  • When the grilling is done, and the eating has begun you need to keep an eye on the clock because Mitchell says “bacteria grows at room temperature.” With that in mind “two hours is the maximum amount of time that you want items to sit out,” she says. And if it is an especially hot day, that time limit should be reduced to an hour.
  • To decrease the chances of your food going bad, use smaller dishes and refill as you go. Also, consider putting side items on ice as that will allow you to leave them out longer.

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