CLEVELAND – Alexis Supan, RD, with Cleveland Clinic, has some tips to avoid foodborne illnesses when cooking out.
“One of the most important things you can do is frequently wash your hands. To avoid cross-contamination, make sure to keep raw meats or items separate from other foods, like vegetables,” Supan said. “Then, remember to put everything away when you’re done enjoying it. Don’t let the food sit out for long periods while you’re hanging out with friends and family.”
Supan stressed that everyone preparing the food needs to wash their hands – especially before and after handling raw meat. Using classic soap and water is best.
Also, thoroughly clean cutting boards or surfaces that come into contact with raw meat before using them for anything else.
When grilling, make sure juices from the meats you’re cooking aren’t dripping onto other items.
Remember to cook meat to a safe temperature, but don’t overcook it – charring it can produce cancer-causing chemicals.
After cooking, Supan said it’s crucial to not let cooked food sit out on a hot day for over one hour and no more than two hours at room temperature.
And what’s the best way to store those leftovers?
“My best tip for storing leftovers is to put them in a glass or ceramic airtight container. If you do that, they can be good for up to three to four days in your refrigerator,” Supan said. “I suggest glass or ceramic because putting any fattier foods, like a sausage, into a plastic container – especially if it’s recently off the grill and hot – can react with those plastics.”
Supan added that grilling can be a healthy alternative to other cooking methods, but it all depends on what you’re making.
Rather than grilling up a sausage or hot dog, a marinated chicken breast or salmon fillet are some healthier options.