Get Ready for Happy, Healthy, and Safe BBQs

Summer is here! This means more outdoor activities with family and friends. Hopefully some of those outdoor activities include food, like barbeques! Barbeques are a great way to bring family and friends out and about on a beautiful summer day, but they can be a magnet to foodborne illness.  The Center of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness. That’s a huge number! This summer make sure to keep your barbeques fun and most of all safe. Below are some tips to keep your BBQs fun and safe this summer!

  • Wash your hands
    • Proper handwashing before and after touching food is very important for food safety. Hands need to be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hands should be properly lathered by going in between fingers and under nails.


  • Defrost foods safely.
    • NEVER leave food out at room temperature to defrost. Food needs to stay out of the temperature danger zone (40°F-140°F) which is optimal for rapid bacteria growth that may cause foodborne illness.


  • Safe Defrost methods
  1. Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator. This requires planning because even the smallest amount of food may take 24hrs to thaw out.
  2. Thaw foods completely submerged under clean, drinkable running water. Foods that will be cooked should never be allowed to rise above 41°F for more than four hours.
  3. Microwave. Only if food will be cooked immediately
  4. Thaw food as part of the cooking process


  • Marinate food in the refrigerator
    • Always keep marinated meat in the refrigerator. This will keep food out of the temperature danger zone.


  • Separate raw vs. cooked foods
    • Once food is thawed out, it is time to start cooking. Make sure to use separate plates and utensils for raw vs. cooked food.


  • Cook foods thoroughly.
    • Have a food thermometer handy to make sure foods are reaching proper internal temperature. Be sure to stick the food thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to get a more accurate internal temperature.
  • Chicken: 165°F
  • Beef, pork, veal, lamb, steaks, chops:145°F
  • Ground beef, veal, lamb, pork: 160°F
  • Fish: 145°F


  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
    • Hot food should be kept at 140°F or warmer
    • Cold food should be kept below 40°F
    • Refrigerate left overs immediately

Follow these tips to keep your family and friends happy, healthy, and safe this summer!

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss and have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication. To attend a free seminar, which occurs three times a month, or to make an appointment with Jennifer for nutrition counseling, call 855-TIME-4-ME.

Contact us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Questions, issues or concerns? I'd love to help you!

Click ENTER to chat