Grilling Foods: Keep Your Family Safe
Did you know that the majority of people grill on July 4th (82%), followed by Birthdays (72%), Labor Day (70%), Memorial Day (62%) and the Super Bowl (30%)? Grilling is an all-time favorite for many households and now that the weather is warming, more families are using their grills to prepare family meals.
Enjoy grilling this season but be sure to be safe to avoid accidents. According to the National Fire Protection Association between 2007-2011, gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were responsible for an annual average of 1,400 home fires.
Whether you have a charcoal, gas or in-door grill, become the grill master in your house by carefully reading the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions for your family’s grill. Follow these important tips to help you and your family use your grill safely.
- Regularly remove grease or fat buildup from the racks/grates to reduce chances of having a fire. Thoroughly clean your grill at least once a year so it will last longer.
- For charcoal grills, look at the new safety label on the charcoal bags. Charcoal is hard to ignite so people are often tempted to use ready-to-light charcoal or charcoal fluid. These products seem to make lighting charcoal easier, but they will introduce a lot of chemicals and sometimes leave a chemical taste on the food. Always, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never use lighter fluid after the fire is started.
- Remember to only use your gas and charcoal grills outside.
- Place your gas grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Never grill in the garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher accessible in the event of a fire.
- Always keep food safety in mind when grilling and use different dishes and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat. By putting cooked food on plates that held raw meat, you are cross-contaminating the food. Any bacteria present in the raw meat could be reintroduced to the cooked food.
- Cold food should be kept cold until ready to grill – never leave raw meat, poultry, or any perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Don’t forget to use a thermometer, especially when cooking meat, poultry and fish. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria and other pathogens, which can cause food poisoning if ingested. A meat thermometer is an especially important tool and will help guard against food poisoning. The color of meat and poultry is not a good indicator of safety.
For more information, check out our grilling factsheet. http://bay.ifas.ufl.edu/fnc/files/2011/09/Grilling-safety.pdf