From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Heart Health
June 29, 2018

Five tips for a healthy and safe summer cookout

Lisa Akly, RD
Palmetto Health Heart Hospital
The summer season brings outdoor activities including family reunions, cookouts and picnics. Lisa Akly, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital dietitian, shares five tips to ensure that your outdoor meals are not only healthy but safe as well. 
  1. Wash-up and don’t cross-contaminate!
    • Wash hands before you handle food and clean your cooking surfaces. 
    • If you are grilling food away from the convenience of your kitchen and there is no source of safe water, be sure to bring water for preparation and cleaning.
    • You can also pack other appropriate cleaning supplies for cleaning hands and surfaces. 
    • When packing your cooler, wrap raw meats securely. 
    • Don’t let your ready to eat foods come in contact with raw meats. 
    • Pack separate cutting boards and utensils for ready-to-eat foods like vegetables and raw foods like meats.
  2. Go lean on proteins. 
    • Some examples of lean beef selections are round, chuck, tenderloin and sirloin.
    • Choose lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher) or choose low-fat ground chicken or turkey.
    • The leanest poultry is skinless chicken breasts or turkey cutlets. 
    • Don’t forget about fish! Salmon, tuna, tilapia just to name a few examples. 
  3. Cook meats to safe temperatures. 
    • The USDA recommends cooking ground beef and all cuts of pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and all poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    • The USDA also recommends cooking all meat completely at the picnic site. Partially cooking food ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them. 
  4. Hold foods at safe temperatures.  
    • Keep cooked meats, chicken, and potato or pasta in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs or containers of frozen water. 
    • Replenish ice when it starts to melt to preserve the cold temperature of your cooler. 
    • Never allow your picnic food to remain in the “Danger Zone” (between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F) for more than two hours. 
    • If outdoor temperatures reach above 90 degrees, don’t leave your food out for more than an hour.  
    • Bring a separate cooler for your beverages as this cooler may be opened more frequently.
  5. Grill up some fruits and veggies!
    • Meat is not your only option for grilling. Squash, corn and bell peppers are just a few examples of vegetables that you can grill.
    • Cut vegetables into pieces that will cook evenly and quickly.
    • Grilling fruits like apples, pears and pineapples, which hold their shape and texture well on the grill, make a tasty side dish or dessert.
Same-Day Care

Palmetto Health offers several same-day care options for minor illnesses such as sunburns and other skin conditions. To learn more, visit