Barbecue Food Safety Tips

Barbecue food safety is an important topic. After all, who doesn’t love grilling? Whether it’s burgers, chicken, veggies or seafood, grilling lends just the right flavor to make any food taste delicious. Of course as Registered Dietitians, we advise that you grill foods properly to avoid foodborne illness. 

Meat especially must be cooked to a certain temperature before serving. If something hasn’t been cooked thoroughly enough, it can make you sick. The handy chart below will show you the different internal temperatures you need to reach for various types of meat to be deemed “safe.”

Category Food Temperature (°F) 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160
Turkey, Chicken 165
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165
Poultry breasts, roasts 165
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145
Fresh ham (raw) 145

This chart is from

Hot foods aren’t the only ones you’ll want to check. Cold foods need to stay below a certain temperature too! For cold dishes like pasta salads, fruit/veggie trays, deviled eggs, and charcuterie boards with meat and cheese, it’s important to stay at or below 40°F. Anything within the 40-140°F range is considered the “temperature danger zone” where bacteria thrive, and food can make you sick. If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can order one here before your next picnic!

More Barbecue Food Safety Tips

When serving food outdoors, keep these tips in mind to keep your company safe:   

  1. Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90°F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour. Once people have helped themselves to your cold items, bring those items back inside to refrigerate.
  2. Serve cold foods in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler or refrigerator. To help the foods that are out stay cold for longer, place the serving dish in a bowl or tray of ice. Don’t forget to check the temperature. Remember, cold foods shouldn’t go above 40°F!
  3. Refrigerate your serving plates and keep food in the shade. If your platters are cold, it will help keep food cold for a little while longer (just like foods served on a hot plate will stay hot for longer!) Keeping foods in the shade will also reduce the amount of direct heat from the sun. 

If you’re feeling nervous about cold foods getting too warm outside, try serving them indoors instead. A buffet line set up in the kitchen might even make cleanup easier!

Gear and Gadgets We Love

In need of some products to make your barbecue or picnic a healthy success? Here are a few items that top our list of favorites: 



Craving more tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy? Our Registered Dietitians have plenty to share. At Anderson’s Nutrition, we accept most major insurance, so your session may be fully covered! Use our online scheduler to book an appointment. 


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