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Delicious and Safe Summer Barbecues!
Provided by the American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health

Whether it's a birthday, family reunion, or graduation party, you will probably be doing lots of cooking on the grill throughout the summer. So, before you throw another burger on the grill or shrimp on the barbie, it's important to brush up on some safe grilling tips!

Adjust the grill properly

All food cooked on the grill needs to be cooked evenly--inside and outside. If meat or poultry are too close to the heat they will burn on the outside and stay raw on the inside, which can allow bacteria to grow. Remember: Cook meat and poultry to the internal temperatures listed below. To achieve the target temperatures, a meat or "quick-read" thermometer is essential. These thermometers are best for barbecuing because they give a quick reading when inserted into the center of the food. Tip: For burgers, insert thermometer from the side for an accurate read.

Target Temperatures

Meat/Fish/Poultry Internal, Cooked Temperature
(Degrees F)
Ground products such as hamburger (prepared as patties, meatloaf, meatballs, etc.) 160, or cook until no longer pink and juices run clear
Medium rare
Well done
Fish 145
Poultry breasts, thighs, wings 170, or cook until juices run clear

Avoid Cross-Contamination

What's cross-contamination? It happens when bacteria is transferred from one food or surface to another. And, with a little extra effort food contamination can be avoided. Here are a few simple tips to remember: 1. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meats and vegetables. A plastic cutting board may be your best choice. According to research from the Food and Drug Administration, bacteria in raw meat doesn't stay on plastic like it does on wood and plastic is easier to clean. 2. Keep foods separate. Juices from raw meat, poultry or fish can contaminate other foods. Use separate plates, trays and utensils for raw and cooked foods. Don't put cooked meat on the same dish used to bring raw meat to the grill. 3. Wash hands regularly. Washing hands frequently between handling of different foods and utensils is vital to prevent cross-contamination. 4. Discard or boil marinades. It's best to use a fresh brush and sauce to baste foods on the grill. If marinating raw meats, it's essential to boil the marinade for at least one minute before basting the meat on the grill. 5. Clean the grill between each use. Getting rid of charred food debris cuts down on chance of exposure to bacteria and possible cancer-causing substances.

Barbecuing Away From Home

When cooking out at the beach or a local park, there are three things to keep in mind--keep food clean, keep hot food hot, and keep cold food cold. A festive picnic can turn out to be miserable if someone gets sick from mishandled food. 1. Pack foods appropriately. Start with an insulated cooler and pack it with 75 percent food and 25 percent ice. Make sure perishables are stored between ice packs. Non-perishables can be packed separately. And, once you get to the picnic site, store your cooler in the shade. 2. Uneaten foods should be re-packed immediately. Only serve the amount of food to be eaten right away. Leftovers should be put back on ice immediately or thrown out. 3. Wash, wash and wash. Bring premoistened towlettes or soap and bottled water to wash hands and cooking surfaces. Don't forget the grill! You'll want to clean the grill before cooking, unless you bring your own grill.

Bottom Line

A safe barbecue can be a fun barbecue when following these simple tips. Don't be overwhelmed, just take it slow and you'll have a great time. Source: The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, Duyff, R., Chronimed Publishing, 1996.


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