Keep your family and friends healthy this Memorial Day weekend by following these simple food safety tips for grilling outdoors. The days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer ... and that means summer is here! And with summer comes gatherings outdoors with food, fun, and fellowship.

Unfortunately, summer is also the time when cases of foodborne illness increase. But, you can avoid those uninvited guests by safely packing, preparing, and storing your special summer foods. Here are some tips from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service on the "ABC's of Barbecue."

• Marinating

Always marinate raw meats, fish, or poultry in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Set aside a portion of the marinade before adding raw meat or poultry to use later as a dip or basting sauce. Do not reuse the marinade the raw meat was soaked in. You can boil the marinade for five minutes to be sure to kill any bacteria from the raw meat.

• Pre-cooking

You can save time on the grill by partially cooking meat or poultry ahead of time, then finishing it on the grill. The food should go directly to the grill from the microwave, range, or oven, though. Interrupted cooking is very risky. If you must cook well ahead of serving time, cook the meat completely and then cool it fast to put on the grill later. Either way, be sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.

• Grilling

Make sure the grill is ready. For safety and quality, check that the coals are very hot before cooking food. This can take 30 minutes or longer. Coals should have a light coating of grey ash for optimal heat.
Thoroughly cook all meat and poultry. To ensure meat is cooked thoroughly, use a meat thermometer.

To properly use a meat thermometer, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without being sure the end of the thermometer does not rest on the cooking surface. Use the chart below to be sure that whatever you are cooking reaches the right internal temperature.

Read more Grilling Tips.

Source: Kansas State University