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Cooking safety
Staff Sgt. Christopher Sandahl, 31st Communication Squadron, grills during an Air Force Assistance Fund event, April 30, 2014, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Practicing proper grilling techniques throughout the summer can help prevent the growth of bacteria foodborne illnesses from developing on food. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman)
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Grilling 101: food safety

Posted 5/6/2014   Updated 5/6/2014 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/6/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- With longer and warmer days approaching, holding cookouts for outdoor social events is one way to embrace the weather. However, there are safety concerns one should keep an eye out for to avoid becoming sick this summer.

Safety is a recurring theme service members are faced with and disregarding outdoor cooking safety may result in the growth of harmful bacteria or foodborne illnesses.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proper grilling techniques start the moment food is bought at the grocery store.

"Meat products should always be the last item purchased when grocery shopping," said Staff Sgt. Alina Ness, 31st Aerospace Medicine Squadron NCO in charge of community health. "When you get home or to the cookout, you want to unpack them first and keep them refrigerated as long as possible."

When raw meat and poultry are grilled, food should maintain a minimum temperature of 135 degrees until served. Keeping the food on the grill but not directly over the coals allows the food to maintain the correct temperature without it becoming over cooked.

"Poultry products should be cooked at an internal temperature of 165 degrees," said Ness. "Ground meats should be cooked at 160 degrees and beef, pork, lamb or veal at 145 degrees."

According to Ness, cooking foods thoroughly at the correct temperature helps ensures meat and poultry are free of bacteria and illnesses.

When preparing meals outdoors using a grill, Staff Sgt. Dana Hildebrand, 31st Fighter Wing ground safety technician, gives a few safety tips to keep both operators and guest safe from potential accidents.

"Whether cooking with a gas grill or charcoal grill, there are safety precautions to be taken," said Hildebrand. "When using a gas grill, always keep the propane gas containers upright, check the hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes or leaks, and never store containers near open flame or in high temperatures.

"Avoid using charcoal grills inside of homes, vehicles, tents or campers even if there is ventilation," added Hildebrand. "Charcoal produces carbon dioxide fumes until they are completely extinguished so stay away from storing coals indoors immediately after they are used."

Another tip for keeping food bacteria free is to use a clean dish when removing food off the grill. Placing cooked food on the same surface as raw food could potentially allow bacteria to contaminate the food taken off the grill.

After grilling, leftover food should be refrigerated immediately in shallow containers. Food that has been left out can potentially grow bacteria depending on the temperature of the air. Food that has been left out for more than an hour or refrigerated for more than seven days should be thrown out.

For more information, contact Public Heath at 632-3998 or click here.

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