It’s May and time to brush off the outdoor grill. A national poll reveals that 6 out of 10 Americans can’t wait to fire up the grill for the outdoor cooking season. Nearly 90 percent of people say they plan to enjoy grilled food in their own backyard this summer.
It’s important to have a safe as well as an enjoyable barbecue season. Here are some safety tips to guide you through a safe grilling season.
1. Grills are for outside only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area because carbon monoxide can accumulate and harm you. Set up your grill in an open area that is well-ventilated and away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy.
2. Use different utensils, platters, and tongs for raw versus cooked meats, fish, or poultry on the grill. One of the biggest mistakes made while grilling is to use the same platter for raw meat as well as grilled meat. That mistake allows the bacteria from raw meat juices to contaminate the cooked meat. Be sure to wash utensils and platters with hot, soapy water and rinse with hot water to remove and kill bacteria.
3. Keep cold foods cold. If you are transporting cold food outside, be sure to keep it cold for as long as possible by using a cooler with ice. Place the cooler in the car rather than in the trunk to keep cold foods cold while transporting. Keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked. Meat stored on ice will contaminate the ice, so use very heavy plastic bags or a separate ice chest for the meat.
4. Use the two-hour rule. After the picnic, chill your leftover foods quickly. Leaving food out longer than one to two hours will allow it to warm up to temperatures that permit illness-causing bacteria to grow. Put your leftovers back on ice or discard them if you can’t keep them cold.
Be sure to follow these safety tips so your grill season can be fun, relaxing, and safe.