Grill Safe

by Kiran Sabharwal

From Fourth of July bashes to pool parties to backyard cookouts, July is full of opportunities to fire up the grill and gather around good food. This National Grilling Month, we sat down with RHHD Environmental Health Supervisor and Fourth-Of-July-Cookout-Expert Kirsten Dobson. Kirsten is one of the many folks at RHHD who inspects area restaurants. Between life on the job and at home with her family, she’s invested in making sure people stay safe when they eat.

Kirsten says it’s important to prepare and store food properly to eliminate pathogens and bacteria in raw proteins or refrigerated items, especially in hot temperatures outside. When you grill or eat outside, take it step-by-step:

First, cook all your non-proteins on the grill. Kirsten’s fun grilling rec? Try tossing an avocado on the grill alongside your corn or peppers!

Second, grill the burgers, chicken, and hot dogs. Cooking meats second prevents any contamination of vegetables and non-proteins.

Third, switch utensils as you “go from raw to ready-to-eat” and if you’re switching between proteins. Using the same tongs when you move raw meat to the grill and when you flip an almost cooked burger could contaminate the food. You can also clean utensils with a bleach and water solution.

Fourth, get your meat thermometer up and running! A probe thermometer that measures temperature internally will give you the most accurate reading. Different proteins need to be cooked to different temperatures in order to be safe.

Once you’ve successfully pulled your proteins off the grill, follow the Four Hour Rule with all food. Be sure to keep hot foods warm in a crockpot and refrigerated foods cold with ice. Any dishes left out for four hours should be thrown away to keep guests safe.

At your outdoor celebrations this season, be a food-safe host. Check out CDC’s Food Safety site for more summer grilling hints and guidelines to keep all your food party-ready!