For grilling aficionados, the longer, brighter, warmer days of summer mean only one thing: Cookouts! This time-honored backyard tradition brings families, friends, and neighbors together to enjoy flame-cooked barbecue delicacies such as burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and chicken.
However, a jovial environment shouldn’t stop grill cooks from observing the proper safety precautions. Individuals preparing their foods over open flames should be aware of potential risks and take continual measures to avoid them.
Food Safety Considerations
Although hazards such as cross-contamination and food poisoning aren’t new to outdoor cooking, the different ways in which people prepare food for barbecuing may lead them to forget. Therefore, BBQ chefs should take particular care to observe food safety measures throughout the preparation process, including:
– Shopping. When purchasing meat in the store, choose untorn packages and transport them in separate bags from other food items. Ensure meat products don’t remain unrefrigerated for extended periods of time, causing them to spoil.
– Storage. To prevent bacteria growth, freeze or refrigerate poultry or meat as soon as possible after purchasing. Freezers should remain at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while refrigerators should stay at 40 degrees or lower. Use refrigerated meats within 1-5 days.
– Preparation. Always grill meat and poultry thoroughly, using a meat thermometer to ensure each piece has reached the correct internal temperature. Never place cooked meat on a dish that previously held raw meat, and keep meat hot until ready to serve.
Grilling Fire Safety Precautions
Although humans have been cooking with fire for thousands of years, modern conveniences such as stoves and microwaves can breed complacency when it comes to outdoor grilling. When using a grill improperly, operators place themselves at risk of severe injury. Before and during a cookout, observe methods to keep yourself and others safe, including:
– Outdoor use only. Whether charcoal or propane, grills are always unsuitable for indoor use.
– Cleaning and maintenance. Prior to each use, remove fat or grease deposits from the grills and the tray underneath.
– Location, location, location. To prevent spreading the cooking fire to surrounding areas, place a grill away from overhanging branches, eaves, deck railings, and housing structures.
– Proper charcoal ignition techniques. Use charcoal chimney starters, charcoal starter fluid, and electric charcoal starters with caution and according to the packaging directions.
– Proper propane ignition techniques. Propane grill owners should check gas tank hoses for leaks before their first use each summer and receive professional assistance rather than operating a leaky tank.
– Pay attention. Always monitor an active grill fire to ensure it doesn’t get out of control. Propane grill users who smell gas should immediately vacate the area and contact the fire department.
– Parental supervision. Pets and children should remain well away from the fire.
With the proper safety measures, backyard chefs and their families can enjoy delicious fire-cooked meals all summer long.
What are your secrets for a safe and tasty summer grilling experience?