Tips for safe and fun summer grilling

Outdoor grilling is a great way to enjoy the summer months, but it’s important to do so safely.

Before you fire up the grill this season, make sure you check out these tips for a safe and fun summer grilling experience.

At the store

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is important after buying meat, poultry and seafood that it is put in separate bags from the rest of your groceries.

Consider keeping a cooler in your trunk if you are making a long trip home from the grocery store in the summer. According to the CDC, all meats should be kept at or below 40°F at all times.

Before you start cooking

First, wash your hands with soap before handling any raw meat, poultry or seafood. You should not wash raw poultry or meat before cooking it, according to the CDC. Washing raw poultry or meat can spread bacteria to other foods, utensils, and surfaces and does not prevent illness.

Wash your hands again once you are finished and clean all the surfaces and utensils used.

Inspect the grill

If you use a gas grill, make sure there are no cracks or holes in the grill surface to prevent flare-ups. Also, check the gas connections to ensure they are tight and free of leaks. Make sure that the area around the grill is clear of any flammable materials.

Make sure to preheat your grill before putting anything on it, this will help ensure evenly cooked food.

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Grab a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups. Use long-handled utensils to avoid coming into contact with the heat source.

Never leave your grill unattended. If you need to leave the area for any reason, make sure to turn off the grill first.

Cooking tips

Use a food thermometer to make sure that the food is cooked hot enough to kill germs. Undercooked meat could contain Salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia and other bacteria.

Below are safe cooking temperatures provided by the CDC:

  • 145°F - Beef, pork, lamb, veal and fish
  • 160°F - Hamburgers or other ground meat
  • 165°F - Poultry

If you are using a smoker, make sure the temperature is at least 225°F.

Beware of cross-contamination from marinades and sauces. Make sure to throw out a marinade or sauce after it has touched raw meat.

When the grilling is complete, put the meat on a clean plate.

Leftover safety

Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Refrigerate all food within two hours of cooking or one hour if it is hotter than 90°F outside.

Large cuts of meat, such as roasts or a whole turkey, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration so they’ll cool quickly enough to prevent bacteria from growing.

Clean up

Clean your grill after each use. This will help prevent the build-up of grease and debris, which can lead to fires. Use a clean wet stiff wire brush shortly after cooking. Once the surface has cooled, wipe the grill with a damp cloth.

By following these tips, you can help make sure that your summer grilling experience is safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.

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