From the Store
- Buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout.
- Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart.
- Put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags, separate from your other groceries.
- Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
- At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
- Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
- Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water.
- For quicker thawing, defrost in the microwave and then immediately place on the grill.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Poultry and cubed meat or stew meat can be marinated up to 2 days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb roasts, chops, and steaks may be marinated up to 5 days.
- If using some of the marinade as a sauce on cooked food, set aside a portion before marinating raw food. If reusing marinade used on raw meat or poultry, boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Keep Everything Clean
- To prevent foodborne illness, don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
- If you’re eating away from home, find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths, and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Keep Cold Food Cold
- Keep cold food at 40 °F or below to minimize bacterial growth.
- When traveling, use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice to keep food cool. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Avoid opening the lid too often.
- Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
- Whole poultry: 165 °F
- Poultry pieces: 165 °F
- Ground poultry: 165 °F
- Ground meats: 160 °F
- Beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.
*Reheat leftovers to165 °F or until steaming hot.
Keep Hot Food Hot
- Keep cooked food hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
- Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
- Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours.
- Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
Content modified from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.
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