Ready for Grilling Season? Remember to grill like a “PRO”

The weather is great for the “grilling season," but it's important to remember when grilling it is important to use a food thermometer to check for doneness.

The weather is great for outdoor fun and family and friends will soon be gathering for the “grilling season.” As you plan your menu for these outings and gatherings, remember when grilling or cooking meat, it is important to use a food thermometer to check for doneness.

Michigan State University Extension and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) offers these food safety tips: all meat should be cooked thoroughly, and the only way to know if these foods are safe to eat is to check them internally with a food thermometer.

FSIS recommends the following internal temperatures (in degrees Fahrenheit):

Whole poultry (165 F): hold thermometer in poultry for a minimum of 15 seconds

Poultry breasts (165 F): hold thermometer in chicken breasts for a minimum of 15 seconds

Ground poultry (165 F): hold thermometer in place for a minimum of 15 seconds

Ground meats (160 F): hold thermometer in place for a minimum of 15 seconds

Beef, pork, lamb, veal, steaks, roasts and chops (145 F): allow thermometer to rest at least 3 minutes

To ensure that your food has reached the correct temperature, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends to always use a food thermometer. This is the only way to tell if food is thoroughly cooked. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. USDA recommends “Grilling like a PRO” with the PRO method.

The P means to Place the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. R means Read the temperature. Beef, steaks, pork and roasts should be cooked to 145 F with a 3 minute rest time. Ground beef like hamburger should be cooked to 160 F. And all poultry should be cooked to 165 F. The last step is O—Off the Grill. Once the meat is at a safe temperature, take it off the grill. Be sure to put cooked food on a clean plate; not one that held raw meat.

According to FSIS, each year, about 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illness. This results in 128,000 hospitalizations and about 3,000 deaths. In fact, foodborne illness costs the United States more than $15.6 billion every year. To keep guests and family safe from foodborne illness it is important to recognize that some older adults, young children (3 and under), as well as people with a compromised immune system from medications and therapies are at an increased risk of more serious infections from food poisoning. These infections may lead to hospitalization or even death.

There are a number of reasons older adults and young children are at greater risk from foodborne illness: the immune system of the young has not yet fully developed, also as we age, there are changes in the functioning of our organs, like the liver and kidneys. Older adults might also have underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney disease or other age-related changes to the gastrointestinal tract that allow bacteria to stay in the digestive system longer.

Stay healthy and enjoy your summer with family and friends with great food cooked “like a PRO.”

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