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Summer is in full swing, which means people around the country are firing up the grill for barbecues. Whether you like to cook out for weekday dinners or host backyard parties during the summer, proper food safety is crucial. Here are some tips for cooking out this summer:
Barbecue and meat safe handling tips
Meat is one of the most popular types of grilled food, whether it is burgers, hot dogs, ribs, steaks or shish kabobs. Raw meats sometimes have hazardous bacteria, and the juices may contaminate cooked foods, so it is important to use separate plates for raw and cooked items. Maintaining a proper temperature for meat is essential as well. All raw meat should be refrigerated or frozen as soon as you bring it home from the store, and you need to know the correct internal temperatures for the food you are making. Storing raw meat at 40 degrees or less prevents bacteria growth. It is also important to ensure meat packaging does not have any tears or leaks because it could contaminate other food in the fridge. Additionally, use a meat thermometer to be sure meat reaches the appropriate temperature for consumption when grilling food.
To further reduce the risks of cross contamination, handle uncooked meat with disposable gloves. Vinyl, nitrile or latex gloves are all suitable for food preparation. In addition, antimicrobial vinyl gloves are one of the best choices for food preparation because they are meant to be changed frequently. Be sure not to touch cooked items with gloves that have handled raw meat because this may spread bacteria.
It is important to handle uncooked meats with care.
Jalapeños and hot peppers
For those who enjoy spicy foods in the summer, safe handling of peppers is crucial. A pepper's heat comes from the amount of capsaicin in the particular variety. While peppers add delicious spice to marinades and foods, hot peppers may burn the hands or eyes if you handle them without gloves. The seeds and veins are what gives peppers their heat, and cutting them without gloves may irritate the skin. If you accidentally rub your eyes without washing your hands, you may cause further irritation. Considering higher concentrations of capsaicin, are used as a pesticide it is important to handle peppers of any heat with care.
While jalapeños are fairly mild combined to other types of peppers, cutting up a large amount of them may expose you to a great deal of capsaicin. For peppers higher on the heat index such as chilies and ghost peppers, a single pepper has the potential to cause irritation. Because of the potential for contact dermatitis, peppers of all heat levels should be handled with gloves.
Latex gloves are a suitable choice as long as neither you nor your guests are allergic to latex. If anyone has a latex sensitivity, nitrile gloves may be a better choice. After cutting peppers, it is important to properly wash all cutting boards, knives and bowls. Dispose of the gloves carefully to avoid coming into contact with capsaicin.