Here are some tips to help with Labor Day grilling

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It’s hard to believe that Labor Day is right around the corner. It’s the last official holiday (Hurrah!) marking the end of summer fun! We can send summer off with one last blast! However, be sure to keep food safety in mind. Amelia McGrew, Food Safety REA has some great grilling tips for you to practice this week-end or the next time you fire up the grill.


When shopping, choose meat and poultry last, and don’t put your groceries in the trunk. The temperature in the trunk is too hot and bacteria will grow rapidly. Make the grocery store your last stop – meat and poultry should not be out of refrigeration more than 2 hours or 1 hour in warm weather above 90°F. If meat and poultry set out too long, bacteria can produce toxins that can cause illness and stay active even during cooking.

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Refrigerate meat and poultry immediately upon arriving home. Always store raw meat and poultry below other foods to prevent possible cross-contamination from their dripping. Keep your refrigerator at 40°F.

Purchase ground meat or poultry no more than a day or two before you plan to grill it. Otherwise, freeze them. Grill larger cuts of meat, such as steaks, within 4 days of purchase or freeze them.


Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness. Whenever possible, wash your hands and forearms thoroughly with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before handling food. (When eating away from home, pack disposable wipes or antibacterial or hand sanitizers for cleaning hands if no handwashing facilities are available).

Completely thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator or just prior to cooking in a microwave. Frozen foods do not grill evenly and may be unsafe. Never thaw on the counter – bacteria will begin to grow. It takes about 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of meat in the refrigerator.

Clean up juice spills immediately so a raw product does not get on a cooked product or on foods that won’t be cooked. Juice spills should be cleaned with paper towels, antibacterial wipes or a clean dishcloth. Toss the antibacterial wipes and paper towels or launder the dishcloth in hot soapy water before using it again.

Marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Sauce can be brushed on these foods while cooking, but never use the same sauce that has touched the raw product.

Make ground beef patties about 1/2-inch thick by 4 inches in diameter (4 ounces or 4 patties per pound). This helps assure they cook thoroughly and evenly. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) advises patties this size will take 11 to 13 minutes to cook to a safe temperature of 160ºF based on beef that has been removed directly from the refrigerator; cooked over medium, ash-covered coals and grilled uncovered ( ). Consult your owner’s manual for grilling guides for gas grills as brands vary greatly.

While you are cooking

The juice color will usually change from red to gray when the meat is fully cooked. It is not a reliable test to assure it is safe to eat. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Foods that reach the same temperature listed or higher are fully cooked.

Foods are fully cooked when internal temperatures are reached:

Chicken – 165 degrees

Hamburger – 155 degrees

Pork – 145 degrees

Hot dogs – 140 degrees

Other Foods – 140 degrees


Insert the thermometer in the center of the meat, which is the least cooked part. For checking hot dogs, go from the end of the hot dog to the center. Be careful not to pass through the meat and touch the cooking surface or you will get a false high temperature reading.

Wash your hands after touching raw meat. Use utensils to handle the cooked meat. Do not place cooked meat on surfaces that had raw meat on it previously.

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours of taking the food off the grill. Slice large pieces of meat into smaller portions to enable it to cool faster. Source: Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County and Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Make your Labor Day stress-free by putting together these simple and tasty recipes that can be prepared in minutes! Enjoy!

Texas Pork Chops


● 4 6-oz. center cut pork chops

● 1/2 tsp. black pepper

● 1/2 C. brown sugar

● 3/4 C. ketchup

● 1 yellow onion, chopped

● 2 garlic cloves, minced

● 1 tsp. chili powder



In a saucepan, mix together black pepper, brown sugar, ketchup, onion, garlic, and chili powder. Simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Place pork chops on a grill over medium heat and spoon a tablespoon of sauce over each one. Grill until cooked through, adding remaining sauce throughout the process. Serve with Grilled Veggie Medley. It’s a perfect compliment for the meat. The Veggie Medley is super-healthy side-full of flavor and color!


Grilled Veggie Medley

● 1 red bell pepper, seeded

● 1 green bell pepper, seeded

● 1 purple onion, peeled

● 1 zucchini

● 1 carrot, peeled

● 2 Tbs. olive oil

● 1 Tbs. lemon juice

● 1 tsp. black pepper

● 1 /2 tsp. salt


Chop peppers, onion, carrot, and squash into small pieces. Mix together oil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Place vegetables in a grill pan, sprinkle with sauce mixture, and cook until just tender. You can also place veggies in the middle of two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, fold and seal tightly. Place the package on the hot grill and turn every 5 minutes until veggies are tender.

Double-Sided Grill

If you’ve limited the use of your kitchen double-sided grill (i.e. George Foreman grill, etc.) to grilling meats, following are some quick ideas for grilling fruits and vegetables. Check your instruction book for exact times and directions for your grill — here are some general guidelines:

Here’s a quick dessert idea using bananas.

• Place bananas crosswise on the grill (so they lay flat. Grill about 2 minutes or until warmed throughout. Remove from grill and place bananas in dish.

• Sprinkle bananas lightly with a little sugar to which a dash of cinnamon has been added. Top with low fat ice cream. YUM! Yum! Enjoy!!