by Ms. Mary Michaela Parker, MSU Extension Service
Warm weather is here, and it’s finally time to fire up the grill! Barbecues are fun and result in delicious food. Some of my fondest memories growing up were spent grilling with my family.
Food safety is important to keep in mind when grilling. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat or poultry. Cross-contamination can happen if you don’t pay close attention to which plate or utensil you’re grabbing. Set out new plates and utensils so you don’t accidently use a contaminated plate.
Keep a food thermometer handy to check the level of doneness. Partially cooked meat can encourage bacteria to grow, so it’s best to cook meat to the recommended temperatures.
Hamburgers - 160 degrees F Poultry - 165 degrees F Pork - 145 degrees F Fish - 145 degrees F Beef steak - 145 degrees F for medium-rare, 160 degrees F for medium, 170 degrees F for well-done.
For additional food safety information, check out Extension Publication 3046, “Food Safety at Barbecues and Picnics.”
Reid Nevins, Lowndes County Extension Agent, offers a few extra grilling tips he’s found helpful over the years as a frequent griller.
Before placing any meat on your grill, turn the heat on and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to burn off any bacteria and extra build-up on the grates. Just like you preheat an oven, preheating a grill ensures it reaches the proper temperature for cooking.
Cleaning the grill after use is important to keep it in good shape. Clean off any build-up on the grates before and after grilling. Reid uses both aluminum foil and steel brushes to get the job done.
Speaking of steel brushes, it’s important to keep an eye on them as you use them. After a few uses, you’ll notice the bristles start to rust and get loose. Inspect the brush before using. If you notice it is worn down, it’s best to throw it away. The last thing you want is to accidently consume a bristle in your food!
Avoid food-borne illness by protecting yourself while grilling. Keep a box of clear plastic gloves on hand to use when handling raw meat and poultry. Most grilling areas don’t have a sink or water faucet nearby to wash your hands, so gloves are the next best option. To prevent burning your hand while dealing with flare-ups, consider wearing heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves, such as welding gloves or those specifically designed for grilling.
Be sure to never leave your grill unattended! To make sure your barbecue is as safe as possible, visit the Center for Disease and Control's website for guidance.
I love grilling vegetables alongside my meat. Check out these Food Factor posts on how to grill corn, sweet potatoes, and kabobs. If you’re looking for a new marinade to try out, the sweet and tangy chicken marinade is a must!