by Brendan M. Lynch | August 01, 2004
Now is the season to splash in the pool, bask in the heat and fire up the trusty barbecue. But take a moment, the USDA cautions, to make sure outdoor cooking practices are safe.
    The food agency recommends buying raw meat last when shopping, and wrapping it immediately in plastic bags to prevent contact with other items in your cart. Next, quickly transport meat items home and get them into the refrigerator quickly. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be cooked within a day or two.
    When marinating meat, keep it in the refrigerator not on the countertop to prevent spoilage or bacterial growth.
    And when transporting food to a barbecue, use a cooler with enough ice to keep the temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, cook meat thoroughly on the grill, using a thermometer to check internal temperature. (The proper temperature varies by type of meat; call the USDA’s hotline at 888-674-6854 for details.)
    If there is anything left from the feast, be sure to refrigerate it in a hurry or discard it.