July 16, 2019 by Peter B. Laird
Healthy Tips for Outdoor Food Grilling (With Infographic)
With Memorial Day Weekend and the official start of summer around the corner, outdoor grilling safety should be a priority during festivities. And that’s especially true in South Florida, where barbecuing nearly always entails warm or hot weather.
The area’s frequent steamy hot climate provides an ideal environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause food-borne illness. So it is especially important to take extra precautions when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products.
Sometimes even raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs, such as Salmonella, E. coli and listeria, that can make you and your family sick. In the U.S., nearly half of foodborne illnesses are caused by germs on fresh produce, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
In warmer climates like that found in South Florida, there are preventive measures that people can take to avoid food poisoning or contamination, says Deepa Sharma, D.O., a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care.
“There are bacteria everywhere,” stresses Dr. Sharma. “So it is recommended that if you are using raw meat that you don’t use that same plate for your cooked meats.” (See infographic below.)
In a statement this month, the Florida Department of Health (FDH) reminds residents that May is National Barbecue Month, a designation meant to promote safety during the grilling months to come.
The FDH gives these tips:
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors;
- The grill should be placed away from the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches;
- Children and pets should be at least three feet away from the grill area;
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and trays below; and
- Never leave your grill unattended.
Food Safety Tips
The CDC recommends thoroughly cooking chicken and meat, using a thermometer designed for meat to test internal temperatures. Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F, steaks and roasts to 145 ºF – 160 ºF, and poultry until it reaches 165°F, according to Safe Food Handling: Seven Super Steps to Safe Food In the Summer, a government publication.