Skip to main content
Home » Summer Health and Safety » Hosting a Backyard Barbecue? Read These Food and Grill Safety Tips First
Summer Health and Safety

Hosting a Backyard Barbecue? Read These Food and Grill Safety Tips First

Photo: Courtesy of Dustin Tramel

Food tastes better when it’s cooked out on the grill, but there are some things to consider before flipping on the propane or igniting the charcoal.

Fire safety first

Whether cooking on a gas or charcoal grill, these tips can help you eliminate fire risks:

  • Grilling on a barbecue should be done outside of your home and clear of objects on your deck or porch. Make sure to keep kids and pets away from the grill — they can bump into it and get hurt while playing.
  • Clean grates and empty any fat collection trays — they can cause flare-ups.
  • Make sure the hose and tank on gas grills are in good condition. Also, check connections to the tank and burners to make sure they’re tight and secure.
  • Consider a chimney starter for charcoal grills. If you use starter fluid, only use charcoal cooking fluid and be sure to keep it away from children and pets.
  • Never leave a grill unattended and always have a fire extinguisher ready just in case. Turn your gas grill off when you’re done and close the valve on the tank. Be careful to let the charcoal coals cool completely before disposing of them into a metal container.

Keep things tasty with food prep safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 6 people get sick from a foodborne illness each year. Here’s how to avoid problems before, during, and after cooking:

  • Keep it cold. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises food should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees).
  • Avoid cross contamination by using separate plates, containers, and utensils — like knives, tongs, forks, and spatulas — to keep raw meat, cooked meat, and vegetables separate.
  • An instant-read thermometer is essential. The USDA recommends cooking beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks or chops to 145 degrees with a three-minute rest; ground meat (including sausage) to 160 degrees; and all poultry (whole or ground) to 165 degrees.
  • Marinades provide lots of flavor but, if they are used on raw meat, they should not be reused on cooked meat unless they have been boiled to remove bacteria.

Kelly A. Nantel, Vice President of Communications and Advocacy, National Safety Council, [email protected]

Next article