It’s peak grilling year, which for numerous of us indicates rolling up our sleeves and shaping mounds of ground beef into patties before tossing them around the coals for the best char. But managing any floor meat, no matter whether it be beef or pork or poultry, calls for vigilance.

On full cuts like steak, microbes probably life on the surface of the meat—meaning it is additional simply killed off when cooked—but the identical microorganisms will get mixed throughout when meat is floor. This can lead to basic safety fears: Buyer Studies lately observed antibiotic-resistant salmonella in a 3rd of floor chicken deals they examined and a pressure of E. coli in a single beef sample.

But do not worry. Martin Bucknavage, senior food safety extension affiliate at Penn Point out, claims that these conclusions are about par for the system when it will come to bacterial contamination of floor meat. Whilst the report should not increase any new alarms, he says, it’s a worthy reminder to cope with ground meat with particular care.

“It’s a affirmation of a issue that we know exists,” agrees Donald Schaffner, professor of meals science at Rutgers University.

Thankfully, with good storage, cleansing, and temperature handle, you can safely prepare dinner with floor meat. Abide by these strategies from meals scientists and head to the grill with peace of mind.

Include floor meat to your purchasing cart last.

Help you save your meat shopping for the stop of your grocery excursion, to assure that it does not commit too much time exterior of temperature-managed circumstances. And definitely really don’t depart it in a sizzling car even though you operate other errands. As meat sits in a incredibly hot surroundings like an unattended auto, Schaffner clarifies, pathogens are “multiplying and increasing larger and better in concentration.”

In between 40 and 140 levels Fahrenheit—the “Danger Zone,” according to USDA—bacteria on your meat can double in a mere 20 minutes. With this in thoughts, really don’t depart your meat out of refrigeration for much more than two hours, and really do not depart it at temperatures at or exceeding 90 degrees for more than an hour.

Retail store it—and thaw it—in the fridge.

If you’re refrigerating your meat, established your fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, Schaffner claims. Make certain the packaging on your meat is tightly sealed, and retail store it on the base shelf to prevent cross contamination if leaking takes place. For additional leakage safety, shop your wrapped meat in a bowl.

If you’re dealing with frozen meat, resist the impulse to thaw it at room temperature to velocity up the system, escalating the chance of bacterial growth in transform. As an alternative, prepare ahead and thaw it in the fridge (approximately one working day for a single pound of floor meat).

Clean up, clean, clean up.

Following doing the job with floor meat, extensively sanitize your countertop, as very well as any utensils or plates made use of (uncomplicated hot detergent water will suffice, Bucknavage states). If you are working with a platter to transportation uncooked burgers to the grill, make absolutely sure you have an additional clean up one particular on hand for your cooked patties. And it goes without the need of declaring, but we’ll say it in any case: Wash. Your. Arms.

Use a meat thermometer.

A thermometer will explain to you if you have cooked your meat to the suitable inside temperature. For all ground meat, that’s 160 levels Fahrenheit. Cooking floor meat without a thermometer, and trying to discern doneness centered on shade and texture alone, is “like driving a motor vehicle without having a speedometer,” Buckvanage warns.

And for medium-uncommon burger enthusiasts, (beneath)cook dinner at your individual chance: Schaffner suggests against cooking your burgers pink. “If you like your meat medium or medium unusual,” he suggests, “my suggestion is to go with total cuts of meat.”