The Basting Mistake That Could Make Your Meat Unsafe

Basting a piece of meat, either on the grill or in the oven, is a great way to elevate your meal and maximize flavor. This technique requires brushing the meat with either its reclaimed fats and juices or a marinade or sauce during the cooking process. Basting helps keep the meat moist and flavorful while it cooks to temperature and can even add color to the finished product. While basting certainly has its benefits, preparing raw meat can also pose serious food safety risks if certain precautions aren't properly executed, so you'll need to be careful.

Food safety should always be a top priority in the kitchen, and when handling raw meat, it is especially important to consider what the raw product encounters before, during, and after the cooking process. If you plan to recycle marinade or sauces that were previously used to submerge raw meat or poultry, it needs to be properly rid of all contaminants and bacteria that are naturally present in raw meat. Doing otherwise increases the chance of contaminating your meal and risking foodborne illness.

The safe way to base your meat

Harmful bacteria can linger on surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat, such as countertops, utensils, cutting boards, or even a used bowl of marinade. While you can sanitize surfaces and utensils with soap and water, there are additional precautions to consider when reusing marinades to ensure they're safe to consume.

After you've removed your raw meat from your marinade it can be tempting to take all that leftover liquid and use it to baste your meat in the oven. But this sauce, while super tasty, has touched raw meat and could be contaminated. Instead, when you first make your marinade, reserve some in a separate bowl to use later for basting. 

Also remember, when using a basting brush to slather on the marinade before cooking, make sure to thoroughly wash the brush with soap and warm water between applications as bacteria may also be transferred to the marinade or sauce. If you plan to baste toward the end or after cooking, you should be particularly cognizant of potential contamination since your marinade won't spend a lot of time in the oven, meaning it might never reach a temperature that can kill the bacteria. 

If you're particularly set on recycling marinade that has already been exposed to raw meat, do so safely by first adding your used marinade to a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil to burn off any contaminants before using it as a baste.