How to Grill Safely

Happy summer! One of the most popular activities during the summer months is grilling with family and friends. There are lots of ways to make grilling out safe for all! Here are some tips to follow the next time you plan to grill:

  1. Separate: When selecting the foods you’d like to grill, keep them all separated in the cart. Try selecting your meats (chicken and poultry, beef, and seafood) last at the store, and place them in different bags during selection and at checkout. This will help prevent any cross-contamination issues.
  2. Chill: keep all meats refrigerated until you plan to grill. For frozen meats, use resealable, leakproof bags (separately, of course) in the freezer until ready to use. Meats should be kept at 40 °F or below. If transporting, use an insulated cooler and a thermometer to ensure the temperature stays consistent.
  3. Thaw and marinate: At room temperature, germs can multiply fast. Never thaw meats on the counter! Try moving meats to the refrigerator, in cold water (while still in the bag), or in a microwave to thaw meat safely. If you are marinating meats, place the meat in the refrigerator.
  4. Check Your Grill and Tools: Before starting your grill, take a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface. If you use a wire bristle, inspect the surface after cleaning; wire bristles can come out and remain on the grill, which can then become lodged in your food.
  5. Don’t Cross-Contaminate: discard all leftover marinades/sauces that have been in contact with raw meat juices to prevent germs from spreading to cooked food. Make sure all utensils and plates being used to transfer cooked meat from the grill are clean. Never use the same plate that had raw meat for cooked meat.
  6. Cook: use a meat thermometer to make sure all meats are cooked to the appropriate temperature. If you’re using a smoker, it should be kept at 225°-300°F, so the meat is kept at a safe internal temperature as it cooks. Important meat temperatures to remember are:
    • 145 °F- whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (allow to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
    • 145 °F- fish (or cook until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork)
    • 160 °F- hamburgers and other ground beef
    • 165 °F- all poultry and pre-cooked meats like hot dogs

After grilling, make sure foods stay at 140 °F or warmer until served.

Place small portions of leftovers into covered, shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking (if it’s above 90 °F outside, shorten this time to 1 hour). These can be placed in the freezer for several months until ready to thaw and eat or in the refrigerator to be eaten within the next few days.

For more information on grilling safety, see: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Get Ready to Grill Safely, HGIC 3543, Food Safety for Outdoor Cookouts, and HGIC National Grilling Month.

Get Ready to Grill Safely.

Get Ready to Grill Safely.
Copyright: CDC www.cdcgov/foodsafety


Elisabeth Justice, EFNEP Instructional Designer

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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