By Debbie Rogers
Among the many scents that say summer few are as widely
recognized as the smell of food cooking on an open grill. One recent poll
indicated that although only half of surveyed North Americans light up their
grills year-round, all of them fire up in June, July and August.
To those in the southern U.S., barbecue is the traditional
method of slow cooking meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or
charcoal. In other parts of the world, what is called barbecue is actually
Purists might take exception but gas grills are increasingly
gaining favor for outdoor cooking although charcoal grills still remain popular.
Whatever your method of grilling or your choice of foods, follow these safety
tips to get the best out of your outdoor meals.
Before you prepare the food, be sure to wash your hands,
utensils and equipment that you will use. When handling raw meat, remove from
the cooler or fridge only the amount that will fit on the grill.
Always open the lid well before lighting your grill to avoid
concentration of gas or lighter fluid fumes.
Never leave a lit grill unattended. Never grill inside a home,
breezeway, carport, porch or other covered place that could catch fire. The U.S.
Fire Administration recommends setting your grill at least 10 feet from the
house. It should be on a level surface away from children and pet play areas,
and away from places where you store combustible materials.
Cook food thoroughly to the proper temperature. Poultry should
be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 175ºF (80ºC), ground beef to
160ºF (71ºC), and pork to 155ºF (68ºC). The time required to grill steak will
vary depending on the desired doneness.
To prevent burns, always use oven mitts and avoid wearing loose
When removing foods from the grill, don't put them on the same
plate that you used for the raw meat. Instead, use a clean plate.
Place leftover foods in the fridge or cooler soon after grilling
or serving. Any food left outside for more than an hour should be discarded.
Some recent studies have indicated that overcooking grilled
foods may increase the presence of carcinogens. Be certain to cut off any
charred parts before eating grilled meats.
With these fire and food safety tips on hand, you can enjoy
your summer cookouts with peace of mind.
Debbie Rodgers owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated to helping
people create outdoor living spaces that nurture and enrich them. Visit her
on the web at www.paradiseporch.com
and get a free report on
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