Your Healthy Family: BBQ Food Danger Zone - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: BBQ Food Danger Zone

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It’s the time of the year when many people are planning a backyard barbecue.

For those who plan on grilling up some burgers, it’s a good idea to recruit the help of a meat thermometer.

Staying out of the danger zone

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic, said that temperature is what determines whether meat is truly ‘done,’ and that simply cutting it open and taking a look inside will not be enough to know for sure.

“Your meat should be at 165 degrees,” said Kirkpatrick. “That’s at the point where you know it’s done and not only done, but that’s the degree in which it has killed off harmful microbes that could then make you sick.”

Kirkpatrick said chicken should be cooked to 160 degrees.

The temperature ‘danger zone’ that you want to avoid ranges from 40 degrees to 140 degrees, meaning:

Hot foods should be held to at least 140 degrees (after being cooked) prior to serving

Cold foods should be held at 40 degrees or less prior to serving

Watch the clock

Once the meat is cooked, the key to staying safe is holding the food at these temperatures until it is served.

According to Kirkpatrick, it’s important to consider the length of time that food sits out, as well as where the food was sitting, whether indoors or out in the hot sun.

Food sitting outside will likely only last one hour before reaching the ‘danger zone,’ while food sitting inside might be able to stretch it out to two hours.

And it’s not just meat and produce that need to be looked out for; foods with mayonnaise, dairy and egg products need to be kept cool.

“Think about things like potato salad, macaroni salad,” said Kirkpatrick. “Those are things that are very big during the summer months of having out at your picnic. A lot of times what I’ll suggest to my patients is to store those things on ice. Actually keep it cool, don’t let those microbes grow.”

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