Summer Food Safety Tips

When you think about summer, do you think of foodborne illnesses? It’s not something that most people think about when heating up the BBQ…but it should be!

Harmful bacteria grow quickly in warm, moist conditions, so it’s important to follow safe food handling guidelines to prevent foodborne illnesses. Here are 4 tips to keep your summer food choices sizzling and safe:

Separation: Keep raw meat from other foods such as vegetables and fruit. If you are packing meat in the same cooler as other foods, place it on the bottom to avoid juices dripping onto other foods. Use separate dishes and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Storage: Keep meat cold until it is time to cook it. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Meat that is sealed well can also be thawed in cold water. If using a cooler, pack it with plenty of ice packs, keep it out of direct sunlight and avoid opening it too often. Remember, the temperature danger zone to keep foods out of is 4oC to 60oC (40oF to 140oF).

Cook: Raw meat must be cooked properly to a safe internal temperature in order to avoid foodborne illness. To check the temperature of meat that is being barbecued, take it off the grill and place it on a clean plate. Insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Remember to check each piece of meat, as the heat may not be evenly distributed on the grill.

Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures Chart
Meat, poultry, eggs and fish Temperature
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts)
Medium-rare 63°C (145°F)
Medium 71°C (160°F)
Well done 77°C (170°F)
Mechanically tenderized beef (solid cut)
Beef, veal 63°C (145°F)
Steak (turn over at least twice during cooking) 63°C (145°F)
Pork (for example, ham, pork loin, ribs)
Pork (pieces and whole cuts) 71°C (160°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures (for example, burgers, sausages, meatballs, meatloaf and casseroles)
Beef, veal, lamb and pork 71°C (160°F)
Poultry (for example, chicken, turkey) 74°C (165°F)
Poultry (for example, chicken, turkey, duck)
Pieces 74°C (165°F)
Whole 82°C (180°F)
Egg dishes 74°C (165°F)
Fish 70°C (158°F)
Shellfish (for example, shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, clams, mussels and oysters) (Since it is difficult to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of shellfish, discard any that do not open when cooked.) 74°C (165°F)
Others (for example, hot dogs, stuffing, leftovers) 74°C (165°F)
Chops, steaks and roasts (deer, elk, moose, caribou/reindeer, antelope and pronghorn)
Well done 74°C (165°F)
Ground meat
Ground meat and meat mixtures 74°C (165°F)
Ground venison and sausage 74°C (165°F)
Large game
Bear, bison, musk-ox, walrus, etc. 74°C (165°F)
Small game
Rabbit, muskrat, beaver, etc. 74°C (165°F)
Game birds/waterfowl (for example, wild turkey, duck, goose, partridge and pheasant)
Whole 82°C (180°F)
Breasts and roasts 74°C (165°F)
Thighs, wings 74°C (165°F)
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 74°C (165°F)
Adapted from Health Canada at

Clean: Keep to your usual cleaning procedures, even when cooking outside. Make sure dishes and utensils are cleaned well. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after handling raw meat.

For more information on food safety, visit Health Canada at:

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!