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BBQ Foods on Grill

Follow safety advice when preparing meats for young children

June 1, 2022

A South Carolina mother posted a video earlier this year of her 6-month-old daughter eating what looked like a rare steak. The video led to discussions about when young children are ready to eat meat and how to prepare it safely.

As families fire up the grills, pediatricians are urging parents to follow safety tips when they cook meats and other foods for children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also offers advice on when babies can start eating solid foods and how to prevent choking. The AAP says children could start eating solid foods when they are 6 months old, depending on their rate of development.

“The most common recommendation is to start with iron-fortified cereals,” said pediatrician Mark Corkins, M.D., FAAP. “Infants start to grow so rapidly and blood volume expands, and you need iron. Meats are a great source of iron.”

For more information on when to start giving your baby solid food and what types of food to give, visit https://bit.ly/3K1Yd7t.

How to prepare meats safely

Before cooking meat, poultry, fish or other foods, wash your hands and clean any surfaces used to prepare the food.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from other foods so germs don’t spread. Use different cutting boards for different types of food.

Meats should be cooked until they reach a specific temperature inside to kill germs that can make you sick:

  • 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb and pork, including fresh ham (raw);
  • 145 degrees F for fish with fins, or cook until the flesh is opaque;
  • 160 degrees F for ground meats, such as beef and pork;
  • 165 degrees F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey; and
  • 165 degrees F for all leftovers and casseroles.

The CDC recommends using a food thermometer to ensure the proper temperature has been reached.

Put leftovers in a refrigerator or freezer right away to prevent bacteria from multiplying. The temperature inside refrigerators should be 40 degrees F or below, and freezers should be 0 degrees F or below.

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