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USDA launches "Grill like a PRO"

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WASHINGTON – This Fourth of July weekend, many Americans will be celebrating our nation with family gatherings and summer cookouts.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is reminding families to take extra care not to let foodborne bacteria, which grows more quickly in hot weather, ruin the fun.

One of the easiest ways to avoid foodborne illness this summer is to use a food thermometer when cooking on the grill.  You can't see harmful bacteria on your burgers, chicken, and steak, so using a food thermometer is the only way to know that food is safe to eat.  The USDA FSIS is encouraging Americans everywhere to protect you and your family from harmful bacteria by "Grilling Like a PRO" at your summer cookout.

"Grilling Like a PRO" is easy to do-just follow these three steps when cooking meat or poultry on the grill this summer:

P-Place the Thermometer!

When you think your food is cooked, check the internal temperature by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep).  If you are cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side.  Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.

R-Read the Temperature!

Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading.  Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time.                                                                                                                              
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F


O-Off the Grill!

Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter.  Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.  Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes. 

While it's important to cook your food to a safe temperature, it is just as important to remember to keep your food at a safe temperature.  Perishable food should not be left out for more than two hours.  In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.

The USDA FSIS wants to see how you're "Grilling Like a PRO" this Fourth of July weekend.  Upload a photo of your PRO food thermometer skills to social media using the hashtag, #GrillingLikeaPRO, to spread the word about using a food thermometer.