Welcome to my blog on healthy eating and food safety. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information. This blog will be updated on a regular basis.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July is National Ice Cream Month


July is National Ice Cream Month
Ice cream is one of America's favorite treats during the hot summer months. The International Dairy Foods Association says ice cream and other frozen desserts are enjoyed by 90 percent of households.. July is National Ice Cream Month and although ice cream and other frozen desserts are a fun treat, they can differ widely in fat and calorie content. Check out the following tips on how to keep this sweet treat within a healthy diet plan and serve it safely. 

Tips for cutting calories, keeping flavor, and food safety with ice cream:

·         Ice cream and nutrition. Premium ice cream is usually higher in cost, fat, and calories. Ice cream with a higher fat content tastes richer and smoother. Typically a 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream will have around 150 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving. Reading Nutrition Facts Labels is a great way to compare brands and make healthier purchases. Check the nutrition label of your favorite brand and see how it measures up. As always, moderation and portion sizes are important.
·         Frozen dairy product facts. Ice cream has the highest milk fat and milk solids content, ranging from 10 to 14 percent, with specialty versions as high as 20 percent. Ice milk usually has more sugar and milk fat ranges from 2 to 7 percent. Sherbet has less milk fat and solids (between 1 and 2 percent), more sugar, and usually contains fruit. Frozen yogurt is made from cultured milk and has less milk fat than ice cream and less sugar than sherbet.
·         Storing ice cream safely. When buying ice cream and other frozen desserts, be sure they are frozen solid and the container is not sticky or frosted. Have ice cream double bagged or bring an insulated bag to reduce melting on the way home. Ice cream can be stored in the freezer unopened for up to two months and opened for two to three weeks at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If stored longer than one month, overwrap the original container with freezer paper or wrap. Once the ice cream is opened, consume within seven to ten days for best quality. If ice cream or other frozen dairy products thaw completely, they should be thrown away due to the danger of bacterial growth.
·         Cut the calories, keep the flavor. Typically when people are watching their weight, ice cream ends up on the "do not eat" list. Instead of serving a big bowl of ice cream with a handful of berries on top, flip the ingredients around. Enjoy a bowl of berries crowned with a small scoop (about ½ cup) of ice cream. For example, one cup of strawberries has about 50 calories and fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. A half cup of a light ice cream adds about 100 calories and calcium.
·         Premium ice cream and portion sizes. Some premium ice creams just aren't available in low-calorie options. However, a small amount of a higher-calorie food is sometimes all it takes to satisfy the taste buds. Try scooping two or three tablespoons of a premium ice cream into a smaller container for you or your guests, such as a juice or shot glass. Serve on a small plate with a little cookie and keep calories around the 200 level.
Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition

Friday, July 18, 2014

Healthy Summer Snacks


Healthy Summer Snacks
Summertime is all about getting outside and having a good time. When on the go, having portable snacks is necessary.  Other days will be hot and refreshing snacks will be best.  Other days may be hectic and mess-free snacks will work best. Here are some snack ideas fors summer when you encounter these situations:
 On-the-go 
·         Pinwheels. Spread light cream cheese on a sun-dried-tomato tortilla and top with thinly sliced ham. Roll up the tortilla and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
·         Popcorn. Make popcorn in the microwave, on the stove or in an air popper. Skip the butter and add some parmesan cheese. Or, make it sweet with a little cinnamon and sugar.
·         Trail mix. Mix together equal parts cereal, nuts, seeds, pretzels and dry fruit.         
Beat the heat
·         Honeydew Lemon-Lime Ice pops. Puree diced honeydew melon with fresh lime juice and zest in a food processor. Mix puree with lemon-lime soda. Transfer to popsicle mold and freeze for 6 hours.
·         Banana ice cream. Place frozen banana pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn on the machine and process bananas until they create a frosty, yet creamy puree. Serve immediately and top with some chopped nuts, fresh fruit, a little chocolate syrup or some peanut butter; whatever toppings your kids love.
·         Frozen grapes.  Wash grapes and pat dry with a paper towel. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place grapes on paper towels, trying to leave some space between them. Freeze until firm. Eat frozen. Don't let the grapes thaw -- they may become mushy. *Important: Grapes of any kind can pose a choking hazard for children ages 3 and under.
Mess-Free
·         Portable milk. Milk is a great source of calcium and protein. Keep some mini cartons in the refrigerator.
·         Cheese sticks. Buy some low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks for an easy and healthy no-mess snack.
Written by: Lauren Von Drashek- Dietetic Intern for Brown County UW-Extension

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Safety of Food Preservation Recipes Printed in Cookbooks and Home Canning Books


Safety of Food Preservation Recipes Printed in Cookbooks and Home Canning Books
A quick search on Amazon.com indicates that there are approximately 700 books on home canning alone. There are books by traditional ‘authors’ like Better Homes and Gardens,  and other names new to the scene offering how-to guides for beginners, or books to meet a certain need, e.g. canning in small batches.
The most important aspect of home food preservation is food safety. Canners would like the food to look and taste good, but more importantly, it needs to be safe for you and your family to eat.  And therein lies the challenge. Proving safety is much more complicated than making food look pretty in a jar and having it taste good.

Proving safety requires an understanding of food microbiology and lots of laboratory work.  It is important to understand the pH or level of acidity in each product, if that level of acidity changes over time. This information helps determine how a project should be processed and handled.  Alongside pH, is an understanding of how heat penetrates into a jar and throughout a food product.  This depends on the type of food, the jar size, and the type of processing medium (steam or boiling water). In order to ensure safety, each food is tested in each processing medium and the microbial lethality for each product is calculated. The math uses a lot of complicated formulas and relies on very tiny temperature measuring devices that are put on the jars.

Some reliable food preservation resources include publications distributed by county extension offices, Ball Blue Book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and So Easy to Preserve distributed by  Cooperative Extension The University of Georgia. They also have a great website which can be found at http://nchfp.uga.edu/

Friday, July 11, 2014

Heathy Camping


Healthy Camping
Camping outdoors is a great way to get the family active and connect with the outdoors. It is important to fuel your body with nutritious meals and snacks so you have the energy for all of the activities camping entails. Below are some suggestions for healthy meals.
Breakfast
Pre-measure some oatmeal, or bring instant oatmeal packets, to cook over the camp stove. Sweeten with dried fruit or honey. If you have a lot of activities planned, add some nuts to pack in some more calories. Pancakes made with whole-wheat flour or vegetable omelets are another great option.
Lunch
Think of foods that can be prepared without heat, so you can quickly make them with little clean up.  Peanut butter sandwiches are an option. Packets of tuna that can be easily spread onto whole-grain bread is another easy lunch. Bring pre-sliced vegetables to make a quick and easy vegetable wrap using a flour tortilla or pita bread. Trail mix is an easy and tasty finish to this meal as is granola bars or protein bars.
Dinner
At dinner, there is usually more time to spend on preparing and cooking meals. Spread some tomato sauce, vegetables and shredded cheese on whole wheat pita bread and roast over the fire for easy pizzas. Roast sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, and corn on the cob over the fire as well. Mix some instant rice with warmed refried beans and roasted corn then add to a whole wheat wrap for a Mexican dinner.

Written by: Lauren Von Drashek, Dietetic Intern, Brown County UW-Extension

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kraft Sure-Jell Directions on Packages May Be Incorrect

Kraft Sure-Jell Directions on Packages May Be Incorrect
Some of the directions supplied with Kraft Sure-Jell packages are incorrect. This can result in jams and jellies not setting. 

The following message
is from the Kraft web site: http://www.kraftbrands.com/SureJell/message.aspx

Dear Sure-Jell Users,

We have discovered that the Quick & Easy Freezer Jam & Jelly Directions located on the printed Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin (yellow box) packages are incorrect. This can result in Freezer-Jam & Jelly that does not set properly. Please note that the Cooked Jam & Cooked Jelly Directions located on this insert are correct. Our team is hard at work resolving this matter. We value your business and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. For more information, including the corrected recipe insert, instructions on how to successfully remake a batch of Freezer Jam and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please see Quick Links below.

Corrected recipe insert: http://www.kraftbrands.com/sites/surejell/PublishingImages/SureJell_Premium.pdf
Remake instructions for Freezer Jam and Jelly that does not set: http://www.kraftbrands.com/surejell/Recipes/recipe-detail.aspx?recipeId=108040
Please direct consumer questions to the Kraft web site: http://www.kraftbrands.com/SureJell/message.aspx

And remember - Jam or Jelly that fails to set can still be safe to consume -- just think of it as syrup!  AND freezer jam and jelly that does not have a heat (canning) process must be kept refrigerated, it should not be stored on the counter or cupboard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Start the Pressure-Canning Season Off Right


Start the Pressure-Canning Season Off Right
As the canning season heats up, it’s a good time to check over your pressure canner to make sure that it is working properly. While a boiling water canner is used for canning acid foods like peaches or pears, a pressure canner must be used to safely process low-acid vegetables like peas and green beans, as well as meats. 

Modern pressure canners are lightweight units with special safety features that make home canning easy. Today’s pressure canner has a dial gauge or a weighted gauge for indicating and regulating pressure. 

Dial gauge canners usually have a counterweight or pressure regulator for sealing off the open vent pipe to pressurize the canner. This weight should not be confused with a weighted gauge and should not jiggle or rock during the canning process. 

Weighted gauge canners are usually designed to jiggle several times a minute or to rock gently when they are maintaining the correct pressure. Read your manufacturer’s directions to know how a particular weighted gauge should rock or jiggle to indicate that the proper pressure is reached and then maintained during processing.
 
Getting started
--When removing your canner from storage at the start of the season, start by washing it in warm soapy water; then rinse and dry.
--If you have a dial gauge canner, do not immerse the dial in water.
--Inspect the gasket. “It should be flexible, not hard or cracked,” says Ingham.
--Do not store the gasket in the lid. Instead, after each use, remove the gasket from the lid, rinse in warm soapy water and allow to air dry; then store in the base of the canner.
--Inspect the vent port, making sure that it is free of debris and will allow air and steam to flow freely. 

Begin the season by canning water. To do this, place warm water in your canner as directed in the user’s manual, seal the canner lid in place, and place the canner over high heat to vent. Allow the canner to vent for 10 minutes; then seal the vent port with a counterweight (dial gauge canner) or the weighted gauge, and allow the canner to pressurize. This relatively quick process lets you check the gasket to make sure it will seal the canner and see that everything is working. Once you are sure that the canner is functioning properly, you can turn off the heat and allow the canner to depressurize. Checking your canner with water may save you a few frantic moments later in the season before you pressure-can items such as meat or corn only to find that your canner isn’t working. 

If you are using a dial gauge canner, the dial should be tested every year to make sure it is working correctly. Even brand new gauges out of the box should be tested. Many county extension Offices offer dial gauge testing including the Brown County UW-Extension Office. Please call 920.391.4651 to schedule an appointment. 

In addition to properly working equipment, it’s important to follow a research-tested up-to-date recipe to help ensure that the food that you are preserving will be safe for family and friends. The University of Wisconsin-Extension has a wide variety of safe home canning recipes available from your county UW-Extension office or online at Safe and Healthy: Preserving Food at Home. To learn more about keeping food safe, contact the Brown County UW-Extension office. To stay abreast of all the latest food safety news, follow “Safe and Healthy: Preserving Food at Home.” 

Source: University of Wisconsin-Extension food science specialist Barbara Ingham

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Using Clear Jel® In Food Preservation


Using Clear Jel® In Food Preservation
Clear Jel®, a corn starch derivative, is a commercial thickening product used by bakeries and for frozen food. This product is used the same as flour or corn starch. Clear Jel® is often used in food preservation  to make canned pie filling. In recent years it has gained popularity in being used instead of pectin to make jams and jellies. The advantages of using Clear Jel® include:
·         It is less expensive than pectin.
·         The amount of sugar may be adjusted without losing the jelling capacity.
·         Recipes may be doubled, tripled or halved.
·         The jam may be frozen or processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

Please click the following link to access a Fact Sheet prepared by the Washington State University Extension regarding the use of Clear Jel® in making jams and jellies.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Grilled Seafood


Grilled Seafood
If you’re looking for something different to grill, try fish and seafood.  Fish and seafood are an excellent source of lean protein, and grilling fish is an easy way to get dinner on the table fast. Plus some types of fish, such as salmon, are good sources of omega-3 fats, which are good for your heart. Here are some tips to get you started.  
1.       Ensure the grill is clean before igniting it and lightly brush with oil or nonstick cooking spray to prevent seafood from sticking.
 
2.       Soak the fish or seafood for about 2 hours in the marinade of your choice to pack in more flavors. Before grilling, drain off any excess marinade and pat the seafood dry. Basting can occur while grilling, but be sure to set aside marinade the seafood was not soaking in to avoid contamination with bacteria.
 
3.       If you don’t want to use a marinade, brush it with a light coating of butter or olive oil and add seasonings of your choice i.e. black pepper, kosher salt, lime juice, garlic and thyme are some great choices.
 
4.       Put the fish or seafood on hot grill. Cook the fish or seafood until it is about 60% done (about 3 minutes for ½ inch thick, 5 minutes for 1 inch thick) then flip with a spatula; fish/seafood cooks fairly quickly so be sure to keep an eye on it.  
5.       Cook for an additional 2-5 minutes and remove from grill. Fish is fully cooked when it begins to flake and is opaque at the center. Some fish, like tuna is often served slightly ‘rare’ like a steak.

 
    

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grilling Fruit


Grilling Fruit
Summertime is the perfect time to head outside and fire up the grill. You have meat and vegetables on the grill, but what about the fruit? Grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in fruit, concentrating the flavor and making fruit a delicious and nutritious appetizer, side dish or dessert.
Almost any fruit can be put on the grill; hard fruits like pears, apples and pineapples are easiest to grill since they hold their shape and texture. Softer fruits, like peaches and mangoes, require more attention when grilling since they can become mushy and fall apart if cooked too long.
Grilling fruits is easy and takes little time to prepare. Follow this simple process to grill the perfect fruit of your choice:
1.       Cut the fruit in half and remove any seeds and cores. Leave the peels on the fruit, which holds the fruit together while grilling.

2.       Soak the fruit in water for 20-30 minutes so the fruit can hold in as much moisture as it can. This way, the fruit will remain juicy and won’t dry out on the grill.

3.       On a clean cooking grate, grill fruit over medium heat. You can spray the grate or fruit with some cooking oil, or brush the fruit with butter to keep it from sticking to the grill.

4.       To add even more flavor, when soaking the fruit add spices to the water like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.  Spices can be added to the butter before brushing on the fruit.
Grilled fruit can be eaten simply by itself, added to a salad, tossed in a salsa, or pureed into a sauce. With the endless amounts of ways you can eat grilled fruit and the simple preparation, it is an easy way to liven up meals with delicious, grilled fruit. Plus, eating fruit is a great way to get enough servings of fruit on a daily basis.
Written by: Lauren Von Drashek- Dietetic Intern, Brown County UW-Extension

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Healthy Eating on a Budget


Healthy Eating on a Budget
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently unveiled Healthy Eating on a Budget – the newest addition to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consumers continue to want more information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources. To meet this need, the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) developed the new resource to include easy-to-use and insightful information about planning meals, shopping smart in the grocery store, and preparing foods that save money and time in the kitchen.

"Although healthy foods aren't always more expensive, many low-income people face time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Promoting nutritious food choices can have a positive impact on improving the health and diet quality of Americans. USDA offers a broad spectrum of strategies to empower low-income families to purchase healthier foods."

Consumers who visit the Healthy Eating on a Budget section of ChooseMyPlate.gov will learn ways to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy meals. The new web pages provide families with tips and strategies to help save money and plan a healthier diet. The new section includes the latest addition to the MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series, Save More at the Grocery Store which emphasizes simple-to-use tips to help consumers make decisions as they walk down a supermarket aisle.

Dozens of additional strategies are featured in the new section including using unit pricing, reading food labels to compare items, and checking sales on store brands. A new cookbook features 25 recipes from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) resource page, SNAP-Ed Nutrition Connection. The recipes are included in sample two-week menus based on a 2,000 calorie diet to help individuals and families plan meals. Additional grocery and pantry lists are provided to help households organize their food purchases.

Source: USDA

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Delight-Strawberry Jam


Summer Delight - Strawberry Jam
Jams are thick, sweet spreads made by cooking crushed or chopped fruits with sugar. Here are some tips for making great jam.
·         Accurate measurement of all ingredients is essential.
·         Use the pectin called for in the recipe. Do not substitute another type of pectin than what is called for in the recipe.
·         Add ¼ teaspoon of butter to the berries and pectin mixture prior to adding sugar. This will reduce foaming.
·         Many recipes call for stirring the hot mixture for three to five minutes after removing the pan from the heat source and before pouring jam into jars. This will prevent the fruit from floating once the product is preserved.
·         If using frozen berries, make sure they are not sweetened prior to freezing.
·         Process jars in a water bath canner unless you are making freezer jam.   
With strawberry season in full swing in Northeast Wisconsin, it is time to preserve those berries for the long winter ahead.  The following recipe is from the University of Wisconsin-Extension publication, Making Jams, Jellies & Fruit Preserves. I make this jam recipe throughout the year and the jam always turns out great. 
Strawberry Jam 
5 cups crushed strawberries
7 cups sugar
1 box powdered pectin
¼ teaspoon butter 
1.       Wash jars. Place in hot water as well as flat lids.
2.       Fill water bath canner ½ full with water and bring to a boil.
3.       Wash strawberries. Remove stem and cut off any damaged areas.
4.       Place strawberries in bowl and crush with potato masher. Measure out 5 cups and put in sauce pan.
5.       Measure sugar and set aside.
6.       Stir powdered pectin into strawberries. Add ¼ teaspoon butter to reduce foaming.
7.       Quickly bring fruit-pectin mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  At once, stir in sugar. Continue stirring and bring back to a full boil.  Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Skim off foam.
8.       Remove pan from heat source and stir for five minutes. 
9.       Quickly ladle hot fruit mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe jar rims and threads clean with wet paper towel.  Place flat lids in top of jar and screw the bands firmly, but not too tightly.
10.   Place jars in water bath canner. Process for five minutes.  Remove jars from canner and place in cooling rack. Let set 24 hours before storing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's Time to Start Planning for Home Canning and Preservation Season


It’s Time to Start Planning for Home Canning and Preservation Season
When it comes to flavor and taste, few things compare to home-canned produce fresh from the garden. The home canning and preserving season will be here before we know it, so now is a good time to start preparing.

Preserving food from your garden or orchard can be a good way to combat the rising prices of food at the grocery.  But be sure to follow research-tested recipes for safe, high quality food that your family will enjoy. Recipes that are not precise, that call for “a pinch” of this ingredient or “a pinch” of that ingredient; recipes that are not tested in a laboratory; or those that contain outdated or inaccurate canning information, can result in products that may be unsafe to consume. Ingham offers three general guidelines for safe food preservation:
·         Inspect and repair any food preservation equipment at the beginning of the season. Now is a good time to inspect canners or food dehydrators to make sure all equipment is in working condition. And start now to collect approved canning jars and lids for use during the season. Canning jars that use two-piece, self-sealing metal lids are recommended for home canning. Jars should be free of nicks or scratches. A “must” every canning season is new flat lids. Metal screw bands that are not bent or rusted can be reused.
·         Have dial-gauge pressure canners tested for accuracy. A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish and poultry. Pressure canners come with either a dial-gauge or a weighted-gauge. Dial-gauge pressure canners should be tested each year for accuracy. Most county UW-Extension offices offer free dial-gauge testing; call ahead for availability of this service.
·         Always follow an up-to-date tested recipe from a reliable source. This is perhaps the most important step in preparing for home food preservation, according to Ingham. Cookbooks and old family recipes are not reliable sources of research-tested recipes. Consult your county extension office for recipes that will ensure you are canning safe, high quality foods.

 More tomatoes are home-canned than any other product. And home-canned tomatoes can be so delicious. But many people are still unaware that tomato-canning recommendations changed dramatically way back in 1994. I answer questions every year from consumers who are not aware that you must add acid to home-canned tomato products to ensure safety. This is just one example where even though it’s tempting to return to a family-favorite recipe, it’s important to update your canning recipes as guidelines change. 

You can find the most up-to-date recipes, how-to videos, online lectures and more to help you safely can fruit, jams and jellies, meat, pickles, salsa, tomatoes, and vegetables; plus information on freezing fruits and vegetables at the “Safe and Healthy: Preserving Food at Home” blog at http://fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving. 

Food safety is, and should be, a primary concern when home canning any type of food, from pickles to meat. The University of Wisconsin-Extension sets itself apart in providing research-based information. Begin the food preservation season by updating your resources so that you can be sure that you are preserving safe, high quality food for your family to enjoy.
Source: Barbara Ingham, University of Wisconsin-Extension food scientist

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June Dairy Month-Pass the Cheese Please


June Dairy Month – Pass the Cheese Please
June is National Dairy Month, which means it’s time to spread awareness about the health benefits of dairy! Milk and yogurt are commonly touted for their health benefits, but did you know that cheese is also an important player in the dairy group? More than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese are made in Wisconsin. 
Many unopened cheeses stored in the refrigerator will retain their quality even beyond the freshness date stamped on packages. Once opened, shelf life depends on proper storage, which in turn depends on the type of cheese purchased. 

Fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are high in moisture and quite perishable. They should be kept tightly sealed, cold and used within two weeks.

Semi-soft cheeses including Monterey Jack, Muenster, Brick and Harvarti once opened are best kept wrapped in waxed or parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. 

Firm and hard cheeses like Parmesan, Asiago and Aged Cheddar should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to minimize moisture loss. 

Blue-veined cheeses such as Blue and Gorgonzola which have no protective rind, should be wrapped securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Exposure to air causes excessive moisture loss and encourages additional mold development.

Shredded cheeses have more surface area exposed to air and will lose moisture and develop mold readily.  Wrap leftover shredded cheese tightly and use within a few days.     

Don’t forget to stop by the dairy aisle and pick up a slice, block or wedge of your favorite cheese to serve.

Sources; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Monday, June 16, 2014

Understanding Egg Selection


Understanding Egg Selection
Shopping for eggs use to be simple – extra -large, large or medium, brown or white.  There is a wider selection of eggs in the supermarket.  Here is a guide to help you with labels on eggs.
·         Caged hens. Most eggs sold in the super market come from caged hens.  These cages house a number of chickens.  
·         Cage-free hens. These hens live in large barns and are free to walk and move around.
·         Free-range chickens. These chickens live in barns with access to the outdoors.
·         USDA Organic.  These chickens are not caged and have outdoor access. They are fed an organic, vegetarian diet free from antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides.
·         Natural. Products labeled natural are minimally processed and have no artificial ingredients.
·         Omega-3. Hens are fed fish or flaxseed.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tips for Food-Safe Grilling


Tips for Food-Safe Grilling
Grilling season is shifting into high gear as many people enjoy Wisconsin’s all-too-short summer by cooking meals outdoors. When you’re grilling out, keep in mind that foodborne illness peaks in the summer. Here are some tips to help you keep the grilling season food-safe.
--Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat. 
--Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Boil used marinade before applying it to cooked food. Reserve a portion of unused marinade to use as a sauce for cooked meat. Do not rely on heating to decontaminate the marinade that has been in contact with raw meat.
--When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
—If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill. Partial cooking saves time, can help prevent flare-ups, and for products like chicken, often results in a better quality meal.
--When it’s time to grill your food, cook it to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Don’t let it touch the bone, fat or gristle. Check the temperature in several places to make sure the food is evenly heated.
  • Beef, veal and lamb steaks and roasts: 145°F for medium rare (with a 3-minute rest time) and 160°F for medium.
  • Ground pork and ground beef: 160°F.
  • Poultry: at least 165°F.
  • Fin fish: 145°F or until the fish is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
  • Shrimp, lobster and crabs: The meat should be pearly and opaque.
  • Clams, oysters and mussels: Until the shells are open.
--Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.
--Grilled food can be kept hot until serving by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to avoid overcooking.
--Avoid placing foods in the Danger Zone (40°F to 140°F) for more than one hour on a warm summer’s day. “Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruit or vegetables sit unrefrigerated for more than an hour on a warm day,” says Ingham.
Source: Barbara Ingham University of Wisconsin-Extension Food Science Specialist.