Thinking about grilling safely

Grilling outdoors is often one of the most anticipated activities of the summer. Grilling can be a healthy and low-fat way to cook your favorite meals. To avoid foodborne illness and accidents, follow these tips to stay safe and prepare healthy meals.

As simple as grilling can be, it is important to remember building, personal and food safety rules. Thousands of fires and injuries are reported each year due to grilling accidents. Keep these safety tips in mind:

• Propane and charcoal grills should be used outdoors only. Grilling inside can cause a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

• The grill should be placed at least 10 feet away from the house.

• Check the propane grill tank hose for leaks before using the grill.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill until the grill has cooled.

• Never leave a grill unattended.

Here are seven tips to make grilling a happy, healthy and nutritious experience:

• Always wash your hands and wrists with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, during and after handling food. Bacteria thrive in moist environments, so it is important to remove all moisture on your hands by drying them thoroughly.

• Use separate utensils, cutting boards and serving dishes for raw and cooked foods. Thoroughly wash each item that has come in contact with raw foods with warm, soapy water before re-using. Never serve grilled food on the same platter that held raw meat, poultry or fish. This is considered cross-contamination and results in yourself and others becoming sick.

• Never thaw or marinate food at room temperature. Marinate foods in the refrigerator. If you plan to use the marinade on the cooked food as a sauce, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry or seafood. However, if the marinate used on raw meat and poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.

• Keep raw foods that will be grilled, such as meat, away from foods that will not be cooked, such as a salad.

• Vegetables can easily be grilled. Large vegetables such as corn on the cob can be placed directly on the grill. Wrap chopped vegetables in aluminum foil before grilling.

• Make sure your grill is hot before you put food on it. If you are using a charcoal grill, preheat the coals for at least 20-30 minutes before adding food.

• Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches the correct internal temperature.

Grilling is a great way to prepare healthy food for family and friends. Keep the tips above in mind as you prepare your next meal on the grill.

Cindy Williams41 Posts

Cindy Williams is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of food and nutrition.

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