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Playing it safe on the grill

By Morgan Watts

Rowan Cooperative Extension

With kids out of school, summer in full force, and Fourth of July right around the corner, it is the perfect time to be thinking about grilling. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when grilling meats, from grill safety to food handling safety. The food safety aspects cover before and after grilling. Below are some tips to help you get started this summer.

From a grill safety stand point. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends the following tips.

  • Only use your grill outside. Keep it away from siding and deck rails.
  • Wear short sleeves or roll them up when cooking on the grill.
  • Open your gas grill before lighting.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tools.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Clean your grill after each use.

Food handling tips:

• Defrost chicken completely before cooking. This can be done by using a microwave, putting in cold water, or setting in the refrigerator. This should never be done at room temperature. If you defrost in the microwave or by placing in cool water, cook immediately.

  • Make sure that you wash your hands and all surfaces (cutting boards, counter tops, knives, etc.) before and after coming into contact with raw foods.
  • Keep raw products and vegetables separate; use different utensils, cutting boards, and plates.
  • Make sure that you marinate your meat in the refrigerator; don’t let it set out on the counter while it soaks in all of those flavors.

Internal cooking temperatures:

Always use a thermometer to cook your meat to the correct temperature. You can never judge it based on how it looks. Sometimes, pink burgers can be 160 degrees, and burgers that look cooked all the way through never reach that correct internal temperature.

  • Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.

– Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees.
– Egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees.
– Steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145 degrees.
– Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees.

If you plan to transport your raw meat to a park or someone else’s house to be grilled, make sure that you place it in a cooler. The cooler should be placed in the air-conditioned portion of your car, not your trunk. Once there, keep the cooler in the shade with plenty of ice.

Put all leftovers in the fridge within two hours of being cooked or if the temperature is above 90 degrees, it needs to be chilled within an hour of cooking.

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