Looking forward to grilling this summer? Make sure to use these six dietitian-approved grilling safety tips for when you cook on the BBQ!
Grilling is one of my favorite cooking methods because you get so much taste, often without adding a lot of high-calorie sauces or seasonings. You can grill up anything from veggie burgers to asparagus to peaches.
As delicious as grilling is, it’s important to make sure you’re following safety protocols for food safety.
So without further ado, here are six grilling safety tips to follow.
6 grilling safety tips
Grilling presents a lower-calorie way to add flavor to food. But summer grilling also brings potential food safety hazards, so I’d like to share a few tips with you to help keep your food from making you sick!
Follow these grilling safety tips, as well as grilling temperature tips, from my dietitian colleagues and I:
1. Wash your hands
Before you handle your food, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. suggests washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds—instead of counting, you can sing the “happy birthday” song twice.
It’s a good idea to also give your hands a wash before you eat your food.
2. Don’t rinse your meat
Yes, this is a plant-based blog! But I fully acknowledge that many of my readers live or eat with with carnivores! So make sure to follow this grilling safety tip f you are cooking meat at home.
“Don’t rinse your meat (or fish) before throwing it on the barbie,” says Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Austin, Texas.
“Raw meat doesn’t need to be washed prior to cooking, and rinsing it can splash bacteria onto your sink, clothes, or nearby utensils,” she says.
3. Use a food thermometer
“You cannot tell if your meat is done by just looking at it,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, food safety expert and author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. You definitely need to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
“Research has found that burgers do not meet the correct minimum internal cooking temperature when you only use visual cues,” says Amidor.
“Your best bet is to invest in a meat thermometer, which is the best way to tell if your meat is done.,” she says. This is especially important when preparing undercooked meats, such as medium rare steak.
A ground beef burger should have an internal temperature of at least 160° F, while poultry should be at 165° Fahrenheit and seafood at 145° Fahrenheit.
4. Have a fire extinguisher on hand
Here’s one of the most important grilling safety tips: When you’re cooking over a grilling fire, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case. Also, never leave the grill unattended.
5. Follow the two-hour rule
Whether you’re cooking up a bunch of food for just your family or a big party, it’s important to keep hot foods hot (at 140° Fahrenheit or above) and cold foods cold (at 40° Fahrenheit or below).
Try keeping cold foods in a cooler or in an ice bath—or try this method from Sharon Palmer, RDN, and author of Plant-Powered for Life.
Freeze an empty orange juice carton filled with water into a solid block of ice, leaving a little room at the top when filling.
“These solid blocks of ice take a long time to melt, so they can keep your cooler cool for hours without messy drips of melted water at the bottom,” says Palmer.
If you leave your food at room temperature, they should be discarded before the two-hour mark because that’s when the risk of foodborne illnesses heightens.
6. Disinfect any surfaces
Give any counters or other spaces that you had any raw meat a good cleaning with soap and hot water. Then wash your hands once more before you eat.
Grilling is a wonderful way to get a lot of flavor for a relatively low amount of calories. Just make sure to follow grilling safety tips so that you don’t get sick from the food that you eat.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if you have any grilling safety tips to add to this list.
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