Safe Grilling

There’s more to cooking outside than just firing up the grill.

Blue Cheese Burgers

Photo by Dianne

Here are a few tips for successful–and safe–outdoor cooking.

Plan for Success
Make sure everything else is ready before you put the food on the grill.

  • Set up a small table next to the grill so you’ll have a place to put plates, hot pads, food, and utensils.
  • Use long-handled utensils (spatula, tongs, fork) for the barbeque to avoid splatters and burns.
  • Choose plastic or sturdy paper plates to avoid spills brought on by floppy paper plates.

Lastly, put someone else in charge of setting the table, getting side dishes ready, herding children, and pouring drinks while you concentrate on the grill.

Basic Food Safety
It comes down to this: Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

Bacteria grows in food between the temperatures of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F (4 degrees C to 60 degrees C), so don’t leave perishable foods out for longer than two hours (this includes preparation time).

Also, ready-to-eat foods should never be placed on a plate that held raw meat.

Foods most prone to cause illness if left unrefrigerated are:

  • raw and cooked meat, poultry, and fish;
  • salads made from starchy ingredients such as pasta, potatoes, and grains;
  • anything containing raw or cooked eggs such as homemade mayonnaise, cream pies, and
  • anything else containing dairy products.

A cooler full of ice can keep all spoilable foods cold until they are ready to be cooked or eaten.

If possible, use two separate coolers–one for drinks and snacks, which people will be dipping into frequently, and a second one for meat and other dishes that will not be needed until it’s time to sit down for the meal.

Keep ice for food separate from ice for drinks.

If you’re serving snacks that will be sitting out for a while, stick to foods that don’t need refrigeration such as veggie platters, fruit skewers, breads, and chips. Set sour cream or mayonnaise-based dips on a bed of ice out of direct sunlight.