6 Health and Safety Tips for Better Grilling

Haven’t used the grill since last summer, but you want to start cooking?   It’s important to make sure your grill is safe to use before you fire it up.

  1. On a gas grill, check the tubes that extend from the burner to the control valves for insects or other creatures that may have found a home during the off season. Always check the fuel line for cracks; tighten or replace the connections when you notice that the fuel line is damaged.
  2. Set up fire safety precautions around the grilling area. Have a fire extinguisher on hand, dispose of ashes and charcoal pieces properly, and place your grill in an open space, far away from any overhangs or loose tree branches. Don’t get too close to the flame. Everyone knows someone who’s singed his or her eyebrows—don’t let it be you. In addition, do not wear clothing that can easily catch fire.
  3. Keep your grill free from charred food.  Grates should be cleaned completely after every use. This will prevent food from sticking and spoiling or attracting insects. When the grill has cooled down, but still a bit warm, use a stiff wire brush to wipe away any remaining food. A vinegar and water mixture can help super sticky situations. Cast iron grates require special attention, so take the proper measure of rubbing a few drops of oil onto them after cleaning  Most lids, regardless of material, can be cleaned with mild dishwashing soap, hot water and rags. Give your lid a quick wipe-down after every use, and address it with a more thorough soak whenever sticky debris accumulates.
  4. Whether you own a gas or charcoal grill. It should be completely cleaned out after about 5-10 uses. Disassemble it to reach every corner and crevice, scrub with soap and water. Remove flame tamers—the typically metal or ceramic flat pieces—to thoroughly scrub tubes with wire brush.
  5. Cook your food for the correct amount of time! Purchase a meat thermometer to ensure your meal reaches a proper internal temperature. The Center for Disease Control estimates roughly 48 million people get sick and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases each year. Don’t go to all that trouble cleaning your grill and then forget simple precautions to stay healthy! Check out the USDA’s meat safety food guide to learn more about the right temperatures for cooking meat.
  6. Be sure to keep a tarp over your grill when you are not using it. Wait until after it has entirely cooled down—to deter animals, rust and dirt.

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