Barbecue season is finally here! As you head out to the grill, remember that eating undercooked meat or foods that have come into contact with raw meat can result in food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness) caused by bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 8 people will get sick from foodborne illness every year in Canada. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.
What you should do
You can help lower your risk of foodborne illness by handling and cooking raw meat carefully. Here are some important safety tips to follow:
•Raw meat should always be stored in a refrigerator or cooler at 4ºC (40ºF) or below.
•If you are storing raw meat in a cooler, make sure that it is packed with ice and that it stays out of direct sunlight. Avoid opening the cooler too often.
•Ensure that packaged meats are well sealed and are placed at the bottom of your refrigerator or cooler, so their juices don’t come in contact with other food products, thus avoiding cross-contamination.
•Remember to wash your hands, cutting boards, countertops, knives and other utensils carefully with soap and warm water before and after handling raw meat or other raw foods. This helps avoid cross-contamination and prevents the spread of foodborne illness.
•Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat. Meat may turn brown before dangerous bacteria that may be present, are killed. Use a digital food thermometer to be sure your meat has reached a safe internal temperature.
•To check the temperature of meat that you are cooking on the barbecue, take it off the grill and insert a digital food thermometer through the thickest part of the meat.
•If you are cooking a beef hamburger, take the patty from the grill and insert a digital food thermometer through its side, all the way to the middle.
•If you are cooking more than one patty, or several pieces of meat, be sure to check the temperature of each piece.
•Use clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meats from the grill.
•Remember to wash the thermometer in hot, soapy water between every temperature reading (including between every piece of meat or patty checked).
•Always remember to keep hot food hot until it is ready to serve.
Follow this guide to make sure that the food you are cooking has reached a safe internal temperature.
SOURCE: Health Canada
Beef, veal and lamb
(pieces and whole cuts)
•Medium-rare 63°C (145°F)
•Medium 71°C (160°F)
•Well done 77°C (170°F)
Pork (pieces and whole cuts) 71°C (160°F)
Poultry (e.g., chicken, turkey, duck)
•Pieces 74°C (165°F)
•Whole 85°C (185°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures
(e.g., burgers, sausages, meatballs,
•Beef, veal, lamb and pork 71°C (160°F)
•Poultry 74°C (165°F)
Egg dishes 74°C (165°F)
(e.g., hot dogs, stuffing, leftovers) 74°C (165°F)