(WFXR) — The unofficial start to summer — Memorial Day weekend — will have people firing up the grills.

The Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology released ways on how to handle food safely.

  • Wash hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Fruits and vegetables should be washed before cooking, while meat, poultry, and seafood should not be cleaned
  • Store raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods like chips, salads, and other snacks
  • Use separate utensils to place foods on the grill and remove them
  • Store raw meat in the refrigerator below 40 degrees

“Make sure you’re using that food thermometer to check the internal temperatures because even though juices might be running clear, that’s not necessarily an indication that something is done,” Melissa Chase, Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology’s consumer food safety program manager said. She also added that grills tend to cook the outside of foods much faster than the inside, underscoring the need for a thermometer.

Type of Raw MeatTemperature to Cook
Beef, fish, lamb, and pork145 degrees
Ground meats (hamburgers and hot dogs)160 degrees
Poultry165 degrees or higher

Before you fire up your grill, you want to make sure it has been inspected. The U.S. Fire Administration stated that about 5,700 grill fires happen because of malfunctioning gas grills.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Mutal Insurance Co. released helpful tips to make sure your grill is in tip-top shape for barbeque season.

  • Check grill hoses for cracks, holes, or brittleness that can cause gas leaks
  • Clear a grill of any debris or food buildup that accumulated from previous uses
  • Cover grills after cooling to protect them from weather, environmental debris, and insects
  • Keep grills 10 feet away from structures and landscaping
  • Don’t move a grill after lit
  • Make sure the grill is well ventilated
  • If using charcoal grills, use starter fluids for grills and limit the amount of fluid usage

When grilling you want to wear a heavy apron and oven mitts and keep pets and children away grilling area. You want to make sure you have a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water nearby in case the flames get out of control. If you can’t get the fire under control call 911 and treat injuries with a first-aid kit immediately.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service have a few tips for storing leftover.

  • Throw away food that was left out for more than two hours
  • Use shallow containers and put food in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Use cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days
  • Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees