But some common barbecue practices promote the growth of the bacteria that can cause food poisoning, especially in warm weather .
To keep bacteria at bay, observe the following simple guidelines:
Marinate meats in the refrigerator, not on the counter, so bacteria won't have a chance to grow. If you want to use some marinade for a dip or basting sauce, reserve a portion in advance. Don't reuse marinade that's been used on raw meat.
Parboiling or partially cooking meat in the microwave or oven to reduce grilling time is safe only if the food then goes immediately onto the grill. If you're precooking well ahead of time, be certain to cook the meat thoroughly to destroy all bacteria; then refrigerate. (Reheating later on the grill will at least impart a barbecued flavor).
Carrying out the food
Wash any utensils and plates that have come in contact with raw meat before using them for cooked foods. Be sure to keep vegetables or fruits that are intended for grilling separate from the raw meat. That way, no one will unwittingly munch on a piece of produce that's been contaminated with meat juices.
Cooking the food
Meat and poultry should be thoroughly cooked. It is best to use a meat thermometer to check for safety and doneness. Large cuts of beef like roasts may be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F for medium. Poultry should reach 165°F.
Serving the food
Serve immediately, so hot foods won't cool enough to start growing bacteria. Perishable foods should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If the outdoor temperature is 85°F or hotter, serve within an hour.
Promptly refrigerate any leftovers, dividing larger quantities into small, shallow containers so the food will cool more quickly, with less chance for bacteria to grow.
Some studies have hinted at a possible cancer risk from eating large quantities of grilled meats, especially if they're charred. However, any such risk appears to be slight. 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