Maine doctor shares food safety tips for cookouts

Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 5:12 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2023 at 6:42 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - ‘Tis the season for backyard barbeques.

While grilled burgers and hot dogs can be delicious, undercooked or improperly stored food can lead to illness.

We spoke with an expert who shared some safety tips for your cookout.

He suggests keeping your food cold prior to cooking or serving. Food left out for a little as two hours can have dangerous bacterial growth.

And there’s one condiment in particular to keep an eye on.

“Mayonnaise is one of those infamous foods. It takes about one hour of mayonnaise to be in 90 degrees for it to start growing enough bacteria for you to get food poisoning. So, if you keep it cool, that’s the best way to protect yourself. Keep it outside for a limited period of time,” said Dr. Michael Melia, emergency medical services, Northern Light Health.

Dr. Melia says meats such as chicken or pork have a particularly high risk for food poisoning if not cooked properly.

Make sure chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and for pork 145 degrees, before serving.

Other tips include keeping raw meat away from prepared food and washing your hands every time you touch raw meat.

When it comes to grilling, there are ways to avoid injury from burns, including making sure you’re grilling outside in a well-ventilated area.

If you’re using a propone grill for the first time this season, make sure it’s in good working order.

“The National Fire Protection Agency kind of suggests that the first time you use a grill, you should always put a little soapy water on there, see whether or not there are any bubbles coming up and that tells you you need to replace your equipment and just be safe. If you happen to be a charcoal person, you want to make sure that you’re using only the correct accelerant. So, you want to be using lighter fluids and you’d want to make sure you never use gasoline. And you never put any accelerant on a fire that’s already lit,” Dr. Melia said.

Other tips include making sure you don’t leave an open fire unattended, and when lighting your grill make sure the top is open.