Food Safety Tips for Summer Grilling/Fourth of July

by Allison Stowell

1. Start out with proper thawing. If you are using meat from the freezer, make sure you thaw it safely by placing it either in the refrigerator or under cold water in a sealed package. It can also thaw safely in the microwave. Thawing completely ensures the food is cooked thoroughly and safely once it’s put on the grill or stove.

2. Don’t mix marinating and basting. To avoid marinade contaminated with raw meat, do not baste meat or cook with marinade that been exposed to raw meat already. You can safely marinate poultry and stew meat for up to two days, and beef veal, pork, lamb and steak can safely marinate up to 5 days. Be sure to always marinate your meat in the fridge.

3. Hit minimum temperatures. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked to the following minimum temperatures:

Poultry breasts: 165 °F
Ground poultry: 165 °F
Ground meats: 160 °F

Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.

4. Keep your sides safe. So often, meat takes the spotlight when it comes to food spoilage. However, sides are important too. Make sure all sides, especially the creamy ones made with milk ingredients, are kept below 40 degrees. Chilling metal bowls in the freezer before using them helps keep sides fresh and safe to eat.

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

About Allison Stowell, Consulting Dietician, MS, RD, CDN for Guiding Stars

As a Registered Dietician, Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight.

She joins the Guiding Stars team to help people in a number of sectors (grocery, hospitals, schools and universities) to understand how to use the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program to make healthier food choices.

About Guiding Stars

Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious food choices and recently received a U.S. Patent for the Guiding Stars nutrition-rating algorithm. The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently found in more than 1,700 supermarkets including Food Lion, Hannaford, Sweetbay, Homeland, Kings Super Market and Marsh Supermarkets. Guiding Stars has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application. Additional information can be found at