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Calling All Grill Masters: Is It Done Yet?

Stocks in this article: CAG

CHICAGO, May 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ready to fire up the grill for a cookout with family and friends? As part of their award-winning Home Food Safety program, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods encourage all grill masters to equip themselves for the job with a food thermometer—the only way to determine if foods are fully cooked and safe to eat—and with tips from www.HomeFoodSafety.org.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130520/DC17341)

"You can't rely on color, smell, taste or texture alone to determine if meat is thoroughly cooked," says Academy Spokesperson and registered dietitian nutritionist Heather Mangieri.

"In fact, one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it's been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. The only way to know food is done is to use a food thermometer."

According to a 2011 survey from the Home Food Safety program, only 23 percent of Americans use a food thermometer to check the doneness of meat and poultry items.

Mangieri recommends using a food thermometer to ensure meat, poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked and harmful foodborne pathogens are destroyed.

"Food poisoning sickens 48 million Americans each year, so food safety should be on your radar as you grill out this summer," she says. "This is especially true for people who are at high-risk for food poisoning, including young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic illnesses."

Mangieri offers tips for using a food thermometer:

  • Insert the food thermometer into the thickest part of the food, making sure it doesn't touch bone, fat or gristle.
  • Cook until the thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160° F for ground beef, pork, veal and egg dishes; 145° F for beef, pork, veal and lamb steaks, chops and roasts; and 165° F for all poultry.
  • Some foods need three minutes of rest time after cooking to make sure harmful germs are destroyed, including fresh beef, veal, lamb, pork and raw ham.
  • Clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.

"Make it easy on yourself and eliminate the guesswork by using a food thermometer," Mangieri says. "It not only will help keep your food safe, it also prevents you from overcooking meat."

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