food consumption

Labor Day Grilling Safety

Dan General, This Land of Ours

Labor Day Grilling meatCathy Isom has some tips on how to be extra careful when grilling those Labor Day burgers. That story’s ahead on This Land of Ours.

Labor Day Grilling Safety

Labor Day means the unofficial end of summer and one of the biggest days for grilling burgers. It could also mean one of the biggest days for food poisoning cases if
that meat is not cooked thoroughly. Experts say we should always get the internal temperature of that beef patty up to 160-degrees using a meat thermometer because

“color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.”

Marianne Gravely with USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline says 160 is higher than you would use for whole cuts like steaks and roasts and here’s why.

“If you think of taking a roast, most of the bacteria is going to be on the outside of that roast. But if you grind it up you’ve mixed it all throughout so what was on the outside is on the inside so just to be sure that every bit of that ground beef is safe we recommend cooking it to 160-degrees.”

For more cookout information – call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-M-P-Hotline.

From: USDA

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round.

The Hotline receives more than 80,000 calls yearly. This toll-free telephone service, which began July 1, 1985, helps prevent foodborne illness by answering questions about the safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.

Grilling meat-5Food Safety Questions? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline

If you have a question about meat, poultry, or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

The Hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Check out the FSIS Web site at

Send email questions to

Ask Karen! ( | )
FSIS’ automated response system can provide food safety information 24/7 and a live chat during Hotline hours. Mobile phone users can access

The Hotline is staffed by food safety specialists with backgrounds in home economics, nutrition, and food technology.

The majority of calls come from consumers regarding how to properly handle their food, including food safety during power outages: food manufacturer recalls; foodborne illnesses; and the inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products.

Hotline Answers Millions of Calls!

The Hotline has answered over 2 million calls as part of USDA’s consumer food safety education efforts. Often the first question callers ask is, “Are you a real person?” The Hotline is one of the rare services where a live person answers callers individually specific questions one-on-one.

In the more than 29 years of operation, callers have asked the Hotline increasingly more sophisticated questions. Now they frequently know the names of bacteria many people had never heard of 10 or 20 years ago.

From novice cooks wondering how long to safely roast a chicken to more experienced food handlers asking about additives, residues, and foodborne bacteria, Hotline food safety specialists have heard it all—2 million times over.

Hotline Services Available in Spanish
Beginning in 2002, the toll-free Hotline extended its service to callers whose first language is Spanish. By touching the appropriate number at the prompt, callers will be connected to a Spanish-speaking food safety specialist who can answer their questions. Callers may also listen to more than 50 food safety messages recorded in Spanish, 24 hours a day.

The Hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p. m., Eastern Time, but closed on other Federal government holidays.

Ask Karen
This automated system contains answers to thousands of typical Hotline questions. Live chat is available during specified weekday hours.