Warm Weather Food Safety Tips

Food Poisoning Peaks in the Outdoor Grilling Season

During the spring and summer months, the number of outdoor barbecues and picnics increase. These events present additional challenges in handling food safely, because bacteria grow the best during warm and humid weather. Events such as barbecues and picnics create ideal circumstances for rapid bacterial growth, which can cause people to get sick from food. The Greenlee County Health Department recommends the following food safety tips for your outdoor events:

Plan Ahead

If cooking and preparing foods beforehand, like salads, meats, and poultry, give them plenty of time to completely chill in your refrigerator. Marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator and do not reuse the marinade. For restaurant prepared foods, eat them within two hours from pick up.

Keep Cold Foods Cold

Perishable foods should be stored in an insulated cooler packed with ice or ice packs to keep the food cold. Replenish ice when low and keep the cooler in the shade to help keep the food cold.

Keep Everything Clean

Remember to wash your hands prior to preparing food. Use disposable wet hand wipes to clean your hands if water is unavailable. Do not use the same dish, utensils or cutting board for raw and cooked foods.

Cook Thoroughly

A food thermometer is the only way to check the doneness of meat and poultry. Use your food thermometer to check that your food reaches the final cooking temperatures below:

  • Ground Meat (Beef, Pork) to 160°F
  • Ground Meat (Turkey) to 165°F
  • Steaks to 145° to 170°F
  • Chicken (breast) to 170°F
  • Chicken, Turkey, whole to 180°F

Keep the cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack until you are ready to serve the food.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out


Food left out for more than 2 hours is not safe to eat and should be discarded. Leftovers that have been off the grill for less than 1 hour can be safely cooled and used later if they are packed in ice.


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