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Don’t Get Burned by Foodborne Illness this Memorial Day

Posted by Bill Bagley, Public Affairs Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Health and Safety
May 25, 2012

Tips to prepare your burgers, chicken, and hot dogs safely

With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, people all over the country are stocking up on charcoal and filling their propane tanks in preparation for another cookout season.  As Americans begin to focus on spending more time outdoors and grilling meals with family and friends, it is important to ensure that grillers are also taking the necessary steps to ensure food safety this season.

As you kick off the summer grilling season, keep your food safe by remembering these four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.  Be sure that you start with clean surfaces and clean hands, and remember to separate raw meat and poultry from your veggies and cooked foods.  Also, the most import tool you have at your grill is your food thermometer.  Before you take your burgers, hot dogs or chicken off the grill, check the temperature (click here for temperature recommendations).

Finally, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Hot foods can be kept on the grill and cold foods can always be chilled with packs of ice or in a cooler.  Remember that bacteria grow most rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F, so perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature is higher than 90 °F—which is common in the summer—food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that’s been sitting out for too long.

When grilling out this summer, make Mobile Ask Karen the first guest on your list. Ask Karen is USDA's virtual food safety representative available 24/7 at or on your smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Android app store.

If you still have questions about grilling safely, check out our website.  FSIS wishes you a safe Memorial Day and cookout season!

Category/Topic: Health and Safety

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