Start a Food Safe Summer This Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, which means that many Virginians will be taking out their grills and spending more time outdoors. Follow these tips for your Memorial Day cookout for safe and enjoyable outdoor cooking all summer long!

Bringing perishable or raw foods to a picnic or cookout?

Bacteria grows faster in warm temperatures. Be sure that these foods don’t spend more than:

  • one hour sitting out when the temperature is above 90˚F or
  • two hours when temperatures are below 90˚F.

Use an insulated cooler to help keep foods colds. Foods that need to be kept cold include:

  • raw meat, poultry, and seafood;
  • deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches;
  • summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood);
  • cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.

To help keep your food cooler for longer:

  • keep your cooler full,
  • place the cooler in the shade, and
  • avoid opening the cooler.

Cooking on a grill?

Keep your food safe by remembering these four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

  • Clean: Start with clean surfaces and clean hands.
  • Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry separate from your veggies. Keep cooked foods away to avoid potential cross-contamination.
  • Cook: Your food thermometer is your grill’s most important tool! Check the temperature of your meats, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods before taking them off the grill to make sure they have reached a safe internal temperature.
  • Chill: Bacteria grow most rapidly in the temperature “danger zone,” between 40°F and 140°F. It’s essential to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept on the grill and cold foods can always be chilled with packs of ice or in a cooler.

Also, be sure to check out My Meal Detective for short videos on all four of these steps and learn how to prevent foodborne illness.

For more information on general and summer food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and: