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Make it fun and safe
Millions of people will be enjoying the summer by grilling out and having a picnic. The Health Department has some tips for keeping it healthy.

May 21, 2008



Charlotte, NC – Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season with months of barbecues, picnics and family gatherings to come.

Whether grilling at home or by the lake, the risk of food-borne illness multiplies as temperatures climb. The Mecklenburg County Health Department offers these tips on proper food handling and storage to keep your picnic free of harmful bacteria.

It's important to take proper precautions when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products.

  • Thaw meat and poultry completely before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
  • Use the refrigerator for slower, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. Microwave thawing is an alternative if food will be cooked immediately.
  • Keep foods in a cooler when traveling to another location to minimize bacteria growth, and pack the cooler with ice to maintain its cold temperature.
  • Store perishables in a sealed plastic bag to avoid meat juices causing cross contamination of other items. Meats should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • When grilling, make certain ground beef, pork, and chicken products are cooked thoroughly to avoid the threat of salmonella or e-coli. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the product reaches a safe internal temperature.
    Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Throw away ANY food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees).
  • Don't forget! NEVER use a charcoal grill in enclosed areas such as homes, carports, tents, or campers. Charcoal produces carbon monoxide or CO, an odorless gas that accumulates to toxic levels very quickly in closed environments. In other words, it can kill you before you even know you are affected.

These simple tips can help make your holiday and the entire summer a healthy and memorable one. For more information on this and any health-related topic, log onto our website at  

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Media Contact: Rick Christenbury at 704-432-0344 or

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