It’s springtime. Flowers are in bloom and warmer weather may have some of us itching to fire up the grill. But before you throw a few of those lamb kabobs that are so popular this time of year on the fire, a little preparation can ensure your guests don’t get sick at your first spring gathering.
Take action before guests arrive:
- When grocery shopping, pick up perishable foods last. If you are craving lamb kabobs, be sure to put the cuts of lamb in your cart just before checking out at the register.
- As soon as you get home, immediately refrigerate it (at 40°F or below). Lamb should be used within three to five days. If you need a reminder, be sure to download the USDA FoodKeeper app. Available for Apple and Android devices, the app provides storage information on more than 400 food items. You can add a calendar reminder on your phone to let you know when it’s time to either cook the meat or place it in the freezer to avoid spoilage.
Ok, so now you are ready to prepare the kabobs, right? Not so fast. Be sure to check your steps before starting:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and make sure your countertops and other cooking surfaces are clean and sanitized.
- Rinsing raw lamb – or other meat or poultry for that matter – is not recommended, as potential splashing can cause cross-contamination.
- When cutting or trimming your lamb, always use one cutting board for the raw meat and another cutting board if vegetables for salads or veggies you may be putting on your kabobs. Wash cutting board with soap and water after using for raw meat if only one is available. Even though they will be paired together later, you do not want to get meat juices on the cutting board you may use for veggies in the future.
- Marinate the meat cuts if you’d like prior to cooking, but make sure to keep the marinating meat in the refrigerator, and separate from the veggies they’ll be paired with.
- Safe cooking, however, is always necessary: cooking meat, poultry and seafood to safe minimum internal temperatures kills any potential bacteria that may be present.
- Preheat the grill or oven broiler on high temperature.
- Grill or broil on each of four sides for two or three minutes. To ensure they are safely cooked, check that kabobs have reached a minimum internal temperature of 145 ˚F using a food thermometer, and allow them to ‘rest’ for three-minute before eaten. For other meats and poultry, see Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart
- Do not put any used marinade back in the refrigerator for future use. If you do want to use some of it as sauce with your kabobs you must either make extra, that has not had the meat in it, or boil it after the meat was in it to destroy any bacteria that may be present. Discard any remaining, used marinade that has not been boiled.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of taking them off the grill if the air temperature is below 90 ˚F; if the temperature is above 90 ˚F you should refrigerator your leftovers within one hour.
And enjoy a safe spring gathering! If you’d like more information about the basic steps on safe marinating, see this related fact sheet.
By: Argyris Magoulas, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA