With the weather finally turning the corner, there’s no doubt a lot of you are warming up the grill for a BBQ on the weekend.
Nothing beats a meal made by fire, but don’t forget there’re several things that can go wrong. Contaminated food can make us sick, so good cooking hygiene is vital to a fun and filling cookout.
Follow these tips to avoid the hidden dangers of grilling, so you can enjoy the outdoors all summer.
- Before the grilling gets going, make sure there haven’t been recalls on the produce you’re planning to fire up.
- Always washing fruits and vegetables before eating them is likely common knowledge by now, but don’t forget fruits with peels. Produce like oranges and bananas should be cleaned, too!
- Scrub harder produce, like melons and cucumbers, with a brush (no, this isn’t a joke).
- Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meats to avoid cross contamination.
- To avoid spoilage, store produce in your fridge at a temperature below 40°F; anything in the freezer should be under 0°F.
- When buying meat at the grocery store, make sure it’s the last item in your cart, keeping it as cold as possible. Carry it home in a separate bag if possible.
- Always wash your hands after handling and cooking raw meat.
- Make sure your meats are well cooked – a cooking thermometer works well here. Often, meat will look delicious on the outside, and is stone-cold in the center.
- Here’s how hot your meat should be cooked:
- 145° F for whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal
- 145° F for fish
- 160° F for hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165° F for all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
- Maintain your grill, keeping it as clean as possible. Ensure no bristles from wire scrubbing brushes are lodged in the grill, which can get caught in food.
- If you pre-cooked some food beforehand, reheat the meat to 165°F.
- While grilling meat is unrivalled in taste, keep in mind grilling meat at high temperatures can create carcinogenic chemicals. The WHO recently announced processed meats in general are carcinogens, and that red meat is likely a carcinogen as well. Enjoy in moderation!
- Ready to eat or pre-cooked foods should be eaten as soon as possible.
- Don’t keep deli meat in the fridge for longer than five days.
- Opened hot dog packs should be thrown out after a week.
- In general, try to eat any leftovers within four days.