Grilling out is a fun and tasty part of summer that brings together family, friends, and neighbors. But when you're working with food and fire, you have to stay on top of things to keep it fun.
Anytime you're working with fire, it can be dangerous, so you can't let your guard down. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that as many as 18,000 people were sent to emergency rooms last year because of grilling accidents. The National Fire Protection Association tells us that fire departments rush to about 7,900 home fires caused by grills each year.
Here are some smart safety tips gathered from top grilling safety experts, including the National Fire Protection Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.
Safety tips for all grills:
If you use a gas (propane) grill:
If you use a charcoal grill:
One of the most important things you can do to help your guests have a great time at your cookout is to serve them food that's safe to eat. Here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will help.
Clean: When you are working with food, be sure your surfaces, tools, and hands are clean.
Separate: Don't let raw meats or poultry – or the juices from them – touch any other raw or cooked foods. Also, don't use the same cutting boards for raw meat and poultry that you use for other foods.
Cook: A food thermometer is one of the most important tools you can use when you grill. Meat and poultry may brown on the outside long before they are cooked on the inside. To kill any germs they might have, they should be cooked until they reach the following temperatures on the inside:
After meat and poultry are cooked, put them on a clean plate, not back on the one that held them when they were raw.
Chill: You need to keep foods a safe temperature. Hot foods should be kept at 140º and cold foods kept chilled to 40º. Food that can spoil should never sit out for more than two hours. And if it's hotter than 90º outside, don't keep food out for more than one hour.
For more information on grilling safety, visit the Consumer Products Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml97/97128.html; the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1714&itemID=41221&URL-Research%20&%20Reports/Fact%20sheets/Seasonal%20safety/Grilling/Grilling%20safety%20tips; or the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association at www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/general-grilling-safety.
To learn more about food safety, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture at http://origin-www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_051908_01/index.asp.
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