Don't go by the color of meat to determine whether you should take a bite. (Juice Images/Getty Images)

Don’t go by the color of meat to determine whether you should take a bite. (Juice Images/Getty Images)

To make sure your juicy, Memorial Day burgers are not only cooked perfectly, but safely, it’s important to remember that the color of the meat is not an indication that it is safe to eat.

Even the freshest raw meat has pathogens such as E.coli, Salmonella and listeria that can lead to food poisoning, reports Bryan Severns, director of food programming and services for Kansas State University Olathe. Some processed meats, like hot dogs, have pathogens as well.

To kill off the bacteria and grill without fear:

▪ Pick up a digital thermometer. It’s quick, inexpensive and best for measuring small pieces of meat. Work with this list of safe food temperatures.

▪ Cook hamburgers to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not matter if the meat is pink. Well done, brown meat can still harbor dangerous bacteria, so make sure you get the temperature right. Don’t worry about the color.

▪ Hot dogs should register 165 degrees before you take them off the grill, even if they say “pre-cooked” on the package.

▪ Don’t forget to check the chicken. Parts should also be cooked to 165 degrees, but also be sure to check near the bone for doneness. Chicken cooked on a grill tends to char on the outside before it’s done on the inside, especially if it’s been marinated in a sauce that contains sugar, like barbecue sauce.

▪ Split utensils. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat.

▪ Put it away. Do not leave the meat sitting outside of the refrigerator for long periods — ditto for potato, macaroni and other salads with mayonnaise or eggs. Use this USDA chart as your guide.

Take a few minutes to look over this information on safely smoking and barbecuing food and have a healthy summer!