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Grilling chicken and cross contamination safety?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm not a food safety nut, however I've made a few observations when watching people grilling chicken. 

 

1) Most people use the same tongs to put the raw chicken on the grill, turn it while it's grilling and serve it once it's cooked. Some people will not use tongs to handle the raw chicken, putting it on the grill with their fingers instead, but then when the first side is down they'll use the tongs to flip it, and when the chicken is cooked again the same tongs to pick it up off the grill. 

 

2) Many recipes I read call for marinating the chicken, then reserving the marinade and use it to lather the chicken while it's grilling. How much time should there be between the last lathering and the time you take the chicken off the grill to avoid cross contamination (off the raw chicken juice over the cooked chicken)?

post #2 of 18

I see this a lot as well.  It irks me.  I think it does pose a contamination risk to use the same tongs at the beginning of cooking as in the end.  If I use tongs to put the meat on the grill (or in the pan) I use those tongs just once more to turn the meat and then use a new utensil for the rest of the process.

 

Your second question doesn't concern me much, I think once the marinade hits the grill it gets up to temp quickly enough not to be a problem.

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post #3 of 18

Quote:

Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

....2) Many recipes I read call for marinating the chicken, then reserving the marinade and use it to lather the chicken while it's grilling. How much time should there be between the last lathering and the time you take the chicken off the grill to avoid cross contamination (off the raw chicken juice over the cooked chicken)?

Call me cautious, but I dump the marinade, IMHO, unless it is used for a short period of time, it has had too long to let bacteria grow.

 

If I really want to use the same mixture for a sauce, I reserve some of the marinade BEFORE marinating the chicken.
 

 

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post #4 of 18

I always kept a bain marie on the corner of the grill with all my spoons, spats, tongs in it, nearly boiling water, no worries there, I always used my hands to put proteins on the grill, wash or glove after wards.

post #5 of 18

I keep tongs for raw meat and I use a spatula for turning meat... Also I keep the blade of the spatula on the grill when not in use. As long as everything that touches the raw chicken hits 165 degrees for a few minutes or is kept below 40 you should be fine IMHO. I also do not use the same tongs for beef, chicken, fish or ready to eat stuff like hotdogs... they each get different stuff. This might be overkill but it is what I do.

post #6 of 18

I use a utensil to go from bowl to grill. My wife scolds me but I will put the bowl back in the fridge till cleaning instead of putting it in the sink. I turn with a spat. Keeping the hands out of the equasion is the most important thing.

If you left the bowl out longer then the safe zone and then grab it to wash it. Well, there you go.

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post #7 of 18

I put meat on the grill with my hands and usually turn it with a spatula.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Quote:

Call me cautious, but I dump the marinade, IMHO, unless it is used for a short period of time, it has had too long to let bacteria grow.

 

If I really want to use the same mixture for a sauce, I reserve some of the marinade BEFORE marinating the chicken.
 

 



Pete - great tip with the marinade.  Stealing it :D

 

Re tongs, as a home cook, I tends to use the same pair all the way thru the cooking process.  Not recommending this to anyone, I am well aware of the dangers of doing this.  Having said as much, we are all still 5 of us alive, so, I guess this worls for us.  We eat chicken 2 or 3 times a week.

 

Gotta say when cooking and preparing the chix, the boards and knives and hands are constantly being washed between processes, i.e. as in slkinning, boning, chopping/slicing etc.  I think perhaps that this minimises the risk to a certain extent.

 

I tend to brown the chook in a pan on the stove top then finish in the oven.  Perhaps this helps too.  If I'm making a sauce then the tongs retire to the clean sudsy sink wash and a wooden spoon is used to make the sauce.  Then the tongs get washed and dried for serving.

 

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post #9 of 18

Any contamination on the surface of the chicken is going to die very quickly. The exterior is exposed to heat in excess of 165 almost the instant it is put on the grill. After a minute or two there simply isn't anything alive on the surface of your chicken.

 

I would allow a couple minutes of cooking between the last basting and removing from the heat. But if you're really worried, just bring the marinade to a boil for a couple minutes. No more problem. Makes it safe for sauces too.

 

Keep a mental tally of any containers, utensils, hands, surfaces, or whatever that have been exposed to raw meat without subsequently being exposed to cooking-temperature heat. Wash them before you forget and before they get a chance to contaminate anything else.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Name Lips View Post
 ...But if you're really worried, just bring the marinade to a boil for a couple minutes. No more problem. Makes it safe for sauces too...

Not entirely correct, yes sustained temperatures WILL kill a majority of bacteria, excepting those that form spores under heat, but heat will NOT destroy any toxins that bacteria may produce, so it is not always food safe.

 

Example: Botulism is NOT rendered safe with heat because the toxins are what "gets you".
 

 

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post #11 of 18

In which case it's not being killed in the chicken on the grill either. That is to say, if your marinade has botulism, you have bigger problems than your turning spatula.

post #12 of 18

I never grill chicken without some kind of cover. Usually by the time the chicken is ready to flip, the surface is not really raw anymore and needs only to be seared to finish.  In my grill station, I insist on 7 sets of tongs. Excessive? 2 Red, one for handling raw and cooked beef, 2 yellow, for raw and cooked poultry, 2 blue, likewise for seafood, and 1 with no color for vegetables. Even with gloves being worn, I will do a lot to ensure I never touch the raw meat with my hands. Anyone who feels they MUST grab raw food with their bare hands in a kitchen because they're "too busy" or whatever needs to reorganize their station.

 

I do see, too, a lot of cooks keep their utensils in sanitizer water. I do vaguely remember in a class at some point where they said this was BAAAAAD!

 

And as far as food-born bacteria is concerned,  I believe it's the waste product of micro-organisms that are the most harmful.  So say you manage to kill off 100% of the bacteria in the said marinade, if it's been the breeding ground of a colony of life for quite enough time, it's sure to have PLENTY of that waste product and WILL harm you!  Similarly why spoiled meat will still make you sick even if you cook it until it's like a hockey puck. You can kill all the bacteria and STILL have toxic food.  That said. The marinade and the meat it contained handled properly will inhibit the ability for bacteria to multiply.  In other words, keep it cold as balls, and bring that marinade straight from cold to a boil or (more likely on a grill) into a massive flame, I'll call it safe.  But remember, home made salad dressings and things alike are notorious for cases of botulism.  So you're marinade or salad dressing can be dangerous for other reasons than the fact it had raw meat it in.


Edited by pcieluck - 6/19/11 at 12:33am
post #13 of 18

Example: Botulism is NOT rendered safe with heat because the toxins are what "gets you".

 


According to the CDC, Pete, boutulism toxin is destroyed at sustained temperatures of 175 degrees---whatever "sustained" means.

 

But this explains why the old USDA guidelines were to boil any suspected food for ten minutes. That certainly renders the toxins harmless. Of course, the quality of the food leaves something to be desired after such treatment, but that's a different issue.

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post #14 of 18

You can use the marinade within a couple of hours if you put it in the fridge while the chicken is cooking!

post #15 of 18

 Quote:

 

You can use the marinade within a couple of hours if you put it in the fridge while the chicken is cooking!

 For what? For basting or sauce I make sure to make extra marinade that isn't used to marinate protein to prevent contamination.

 

 

 

Quote:

 home made salad dressings and things alike are notorious for cases of botulism

 Where does this info come from? I usually think of salad dressings and marinades as being fairly acidic and salty which are not conducive to the growth of botulism.

 

 

 

Quote:

 boutulism toxin is destroyed at sustained temperatures of 175 degrees---whatever "sustained" means

 "Sustained" is at least 5 minutes at a temp of 185 degress farenheit.

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post #16 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

 Where does this info come from? I usually think of salad dressings and marinades as being fairly acidic and salty which are not conducive to the growth of botulism.

 


I should clarify and reword. Garlic is notorious for botulism. It's a lower acid vegetable with a decent sulfur content make it a prime breeding ground for botulism. And to be quite honest, I make very few salad dressings or marinades without garlic in it.  Marinades I"m not worried about, because i"m going to keep them cold. But salad dressings, pestos, and the like I wont refrigerate because I don't want the oil to coagulate, and will use right away, saving NONE for later.  If you want sources just google garlic and botulism. You'll get thousands of both credible and incredible sources.  An alternative practice would be to infuse garlic flavor into oil, and discard the garlic. I don't believe this would have any risk of botulism. And in my mind, this is WAY easier than pealing and mincing up garlic EVERY time you want some garlic in your marinade, dressing, vinaigrette sauce.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

 Quote:

 For what? For basting or sauce I make sure to make extra marinade that isn't used to marinate protein to prevent contamination.

 


I agree with this practice.
 

post #17 of 18

Quick question:

I heard once that salmonella can only survive in a fairly narrow pH range. The argument was that this is why Caesar dressing includes an acid ingredient, usually lemon juice -- to kill the salmonella and make the raw eggs in it safe.

 

Is this accurate?

post #18 of 18

I don't buy that.  There was a time where eggs were actually 100% safe from the risk of contamination by salmonella. That being less than a century ago, i'd guess the cesar dress was created during that time. Even now you've probably got a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting salmonella poisoning from an egg that's been properly handled.

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