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Food safety tips for smoked meats on the grill

Idaho State Journal - 8/13/2017

If you love smoked meats, you will be happy to know it’s easy to create a smoked — and food safe — flavor on your smoker grill. All you need is low temperature heat, water, flavored wood chips, several hours of smoke and, of course, food safety, for a great tasting meal.

Keep these food safety tips in mind before, during and after your next smoking event:

n Thaw meat entirely before smoking. There are three ways to thaw:

n In the refrigerator: This is the safest way to thaw meat and poultry. Take the food out of the freezer and thaw in the fridge on a plate or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.

n In cold water: For faster thawing, put the frozen package in a watertight plastic bag and submerge it in cold water; change the water every 30 minutes. Once thawed, cook it immediately.

n In the microwave: Follow instructions on the microwave oven or in the manual. There are many wattages for microwaves. Cook immediately after thawing in the microwave.

n Marinate in controlled temperatures. Meats can be marinated in the refrigerator at 40 degrees (4.4°C) or below. Don’t cross-contaminate marinades. Sauce used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood should never be used on cooked foods unless it is boiled just before serving with food.

n Use two types of thermometers.

n Smoker thermometer: These are often built in. Be sure that the temperature in the smoker stays between 225 and 300 degrees (107°C and 149°C).

n Food thermometer: Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe internal temperature: fresh beef, veal, lamb, 145 degrees; poultry, 165 degrees; pork and ham, 145 degrees.

n Chill promptly. If you aren’t taking your smoked food straight to the dinner table, refrigerate within two hours of cooking (one hour when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees (32.2°C).

If the meat is a larger cut of meat, remember to cut the product into smaller portions, place it in shallow containers, cover and refrigerate. For best storage, use within four days from refrigerator, or label and freeze for later use within six months. Source:

Julie Buck, EdD, MHE, RD, is a registered dietitian, food safety specialist and health educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bannock County. She can be reached at (208)236-7310 or

Melissa Hartley


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