How to Host a Healthy Summer Barbeque

Written by: Christina Chu, CPT, a Boston University Dietetics Student.

Summer barbeques are what we daydreamed about while trudging through piercing wind and snow on our way to work. Barbeques are a great way to get everyone together and thankfully are simple to host.


Here are some food safety guidelines1 to keep in mind when celebrating with friends this summer:

  • Prior to cooking, let your meat marinade in the fridge rather than on the counter. If the marinade is being used as a sauce for the cooked meat, set some aside before putting the raw meat in or let the sauce come to a boil to kill off harmful bacteria.
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F and should rest for three minutes before serving.
  • Burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, rather than just looking at the ground meat’s color to determine whether or not it is ready to serve.
  • Poultry should be cooked fully to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • If reheating cooked meats, heat to an internal temperature of 165°F or “steaming hot”.
  • DANGER! 40°F-140°F is the “danger zone” where microbial growth, AKA yucky bacteria, is most likely to grow, so keep all cooked meats above 140°F and all chilled foods below 40°F (such as in a cooler).
  • The fuller the cooler, the more effective it is. Keeping your cooler packed with frozen ice packs will lengthen the time that the cooler stays cold.
  • Place your cooler out of direct sunlight and avoid constantly opening it. Keep your perishables and beverages in separate coolers.
  • Food should be kept out for less than two hours and less than one hour if the outside temperature is greater than 90°F.

BBQ VeggiesIn need of a healthy recipe to make for a summer barbeque? Registered Dietitian Christine Palumbo shares some fool-proof simple summer party recipes that will please a crowd. Dietitian Debbie Murphy has a baked vegan burger recipe to satisfy the herbivores. And Lindsey Pine, RD has a simple yet flavorful egg salad toast for a quick appetizer.


Sky’s Bottom Line:

  • Follow the USDA guidelines for food safety in regards to cooking/storing meat as well as perishable foods.
  • Have fun and enjoy time with your friends and family during these summer barbeques!


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