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Food Handling Safety

In the Grocery Store

  • When shopping for meat, fish, and poultry, put them in your grocery cart last. Never buy a package that’s damaged or torn. Check “sell by” dates. Put packaged raw meat in plastic bags so leaking juices cannot cross-contaminate other foods.

  • Load grocery bags with meat and other perishable foods in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk.

  • Take groceries home immediately or bring along a cooler with ice packs and place the meat in it. Refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible.

  • If you won’t use meat, fish, and poultry within a few days, freeze immediately.

At Home

  • When carrying food to a picnic, the beach, or a tailgating party, keep it cold. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove food from the refrigerator and pack the cooler just before leaving the house.

  • If using take-out foods, chill thoroughly then transport in a cooler and reheat those that should be hot just before eating.

  • Store refrigerated meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator in its original packaging. The more times the food is handled, the more chance of contamination. Put a plate under the package or place in a plastic bag to avoid juices dripping onto refrigerator shelves.

  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Allow sufficient defrosting time. Or, immerse packaged food in cold water to thaw.

  • Hand washing is most important. Wash hands in hot, soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat, and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to help children.

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. That means thoroughly washing cutting boards, knives, platters, etc. before letting them come in contact with other foods that you’re preparing or with cooked foods that you’re about to serve.

  • Sanitize cutting boards and counter tops with chlorine bleach. Pour a small amount on surface and let stand several minutes, rinse thoroughly and air dry or dry with clean paper towel. Soak sponges and dishcloths in hot soapy water to which you’ve added chlorine bleach.

  • Marinate meats at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before cooking to add flavor and coat the meat. Reserve a portion of the marinade before putting on raw meats if it is to be used later. Throw away any leftover marinade that has been used. Helpful Hint: Check marinade recipes for suggestions on specific cuts of meat, poultry and seafood.

  • Boil any marinade to destroy bacteria if you plan to baste with it or serve it with the cooked meat. Never save marinades for reuse.

On the grill

  • If pre-cooking meat before grilling, never let partially cooked food sit for more than a few minutes before tossing it on the grill to finish it.

  • Trim any excess fat from meat and poultry to help prevent grill flare-ups.  Also, try lining grill cooking surface with punctured aluminum foil, or cedar plank cooking to protect against flare-ups and charring.

  • Turn food often with tongs to prevent charring.  Browning is good, but charring is not. Do not press, flatten or pierce the meat – flavorful juices will be lost and may cause flare-ups.  Browning is a key flavor factor and helps impart delicious flavor and aroma to foods.  Should your meat become charred, remove those areas before eating.

  • Use Proper Cooking Temperatures – Proper cooking temperature is critical to delicious, flavorful food.  Use medium heat.  High heat can overcook or char the outside of meat, poultry or seafood while the interior remains underdone.
    • For charcoal grilling, medium heat is achieved when coals are no longer flaming, and are medium, ash-covered and spread in a single layer.

    • For gas grilling, consult owner’s manual for specific information about preparing    the grill for medium heat since gas grill brands vary greatly.

  • Cook to Proper Doneness – Overcooking meat, poultry or fish is not recommended.  Use a meat thermometer or an “instant read” digital thermometer inserted horizontally into the side of meat, poultry and seafood to check doneness.


Recommended Internal Temperatures:
Poultry 165 degrees F
Ground beef 160 degrees F
Pork (chops, ground, tenderloin) 160 degrees F
Large cut pork roasts 150 degrees F
Beef roasts, steaks, seafood and lamb 145 degrees F
  • Reheat foods or fully cooked meats like hot dogs by grilling to 165 degrees F or until steaming hot. When grilling away from home, take meat out of the cooler just in time to put it on the grill and never take out more than will fit for immediate grilling. Keep cooler closed.

After Cooking

  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot when grilling and serving.  Be sure to refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking.  The danger zone where bacterial can multiply is between 40 degrees F. and 140 degrees F.

  • Refrigerate leftover food quickly (no more than two hours) and use within a couple of days.

Turkey without Fear of Frying

Deep fried turkey, a longtime favorite of the South, has become popular throughout the country. Once you’ve tasted the juicy, flavorful turkey with its crispy, golden skins, you may never want to roast the big bird again. Thanksgiving and Christmas are favorite times to fry a turkey but it’s increasingly popular at July 4th celebrations and other summer barbecue parties.

  • Use the appliance only for its intended purpose. Consult your owner’s manual on its safe operation.

  • Always keep an operable fire extinguisher (Type BC) ready and within easy reach.

  • A turkey that is 14 pounds or less is easier to handle, thus it increases the safety of frying.

  • Never leave a cooker unattended (make sure you have all the necessary utensils beforehand); hot oil can present fire or burn hazards.

  • Always use the thermometer that comes with the unit; never allow oil to exceed 375 degrees F.

  • Always thaw and dry the turkey completely before cooking.

  • Always lower the turkey slowly into the hot oil.Turkey fryer pots have a marked fill line. Use only the amount or level of oil specified by the manufacturer and do not exceed the fill line.

  • Never move the cooker or pot while in use or hot; keep children and pets well away. Never touch hot surfaces; always use cooking mitts.

  • Use only cookware and accessories designed for frying turkeys; never use glassware, ceramic or plastic cookware.Use outdoors only on a flat, stable surface, and away from any combustible materials (such as wood rail or decks, dry grass, leaves, or shrubs).

  • Never use inside any enclosed are (patio or garage) or under the overhang of the house or building.

  • If an oil/grease fire breaks out, do not attempt to extinguish it with water. Call the fire department immediately. An operable dry-chemical fire extinguisher may, in some circumstances, contain the fire.

  • Allow oil to cool completely before removing from pot.
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