WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army's Grill Sergeants and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are cautioning against foodborne illnesses at holiday picnics and family gatherings.
The Grill Sergeants appear on The Pentagon Channel, teaching viewers how to prepare food. They invited USDA food safety experts to come on the show to help explain the importance of "Clean, Separate, Cook & Chill," when grilling during hot summer days.
"Warm weather can really be a factor in the increases in foodborne illness we see during the summer. That's because we see more moisture, we see hotter temperatures and bacteria multiply at higher rates with that warm weather," Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, said on the program.
Step one in cooking any meal, but especially when cooking outdoors in the summer, is to wash hands and bring wipes and other items to the picnic or deck to keep hands and surfaces clean, Hagen said.
"You want to have one plate for your raw meat, poultry, seafood and you want to have another plate for the cooked product when you take it off. You never want to cross contaminate between those two," Hagen said.
Diane Van of the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service said always use a food thermometer when grilling. Beef, veal, pork and lamb, roasts and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a 3-minute rest time. Ground meat should be cooked to 160 degrees F and poultry should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Leftovers normally should be chilled within 2 hours of preparation, but on hot days, chill leftovers within 1 hour, Hagan said.