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Meat Grilling Safety Tips: A Guide to Healthy and Safe Cookouts

Are you looking for a fun gathering activity with families and friends? It’s time for giggles and enjoying those meat-grilling sizzles in the backyard! While slowly sniffing the smoky scent that soars deliciously in the air, you also need to beware of the dangers of grill fires—they spread out easily.

Here are our curated meat grilling safety tips to get fun, healthy, and safe cookouts anytime. Read on!

Only Use Grills Outside

People BBQ-ing outdoor
People BBQ-ing outdoor

You may be bored BBQ-ing in the backyard, but sometimes grilling in your open garages or under your awning sounds interesting. However, these covered spaces are not recommended. Why? Your grills are made for open-space use where there is plenty of ventilation. Using your grill outside will prevent any nearby combustible material from catching fire.

Remember to place it at least 3 feet from your house to prevent fire hazards.

Clean Your Grill

A man cleaning his grill
A man cleaning his grill

Grease buildup on your grill can cause dangerous flare-ups and fires, so cleaning it after every use is vital. A clean grill also ensures even cooking and prevents old, charred food from sticking to your meat. Plus, it helps maintain your grill’s condition, extending its lifespan and ensuring its safety.

Check Your Grill for Problems

A clean grill
A clean grill

After storing your grill for a long period, regular inspections are vital to make sure the grilling season runs smoothly. This proactive measure helps you spot obstructions, leaks, wear and tear, or corrosion.

Addressing these problems before they escalate can avert alarming situations like unexpected fires or equipment breakdowns.

Place Your Grill on a Flat, Level Surface

A grill on a flat, level surface outdoor
A grill on a flat, level surface outdoor

Place your grill on a flat, level surface, like gravel, patio, or concrete. These surfaces are non-flammable and provide stability for safe grilling. Avoid uneven, sloppy surfaces to prevent them from tipping over during use. 

Wear the Right Gear

A man using the right gear outdoor
A man using the right gear outdoor

Your grilling experience depends on what you wear. Proper attire shields you from heat, sparks, and grease splatters. Long sleeves and closed-toe shoes prevent accidental burns. Avoid loose fabrics that can catch fire; opt for fitted garments instead. You can also wear an apron and heat-resistant mitts for added protection.

Be Ready to Put Out a Fire

A grill with fire
A grill with fire

Accidents happen, and having the right tools nearby can prevent them from becoming disasters. Keep a fire extinguisher, baking soda, or a bucket of sand within reach. Familiarise yourself with their use so you can act swiftly if needed.

In the case of a big fire, call 911 immediately for help.

Defrost Safely

Defrosting meat in the refrigerator
Defrosting meat in the refrigerator

May people thaw their meat in warm water or at room temperature without knowing that it creates conditions where bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella can multiply rapidly. Instead, defrost it in the refrigerator to help maintain the meat’s texture and flavour while reducing the risk of contamination. 

Marinate the Meat

Meat marination
Meat marination

Besides adding flavour and tenderising the meat, marinating also helps minimise the growth of bacteria. Some marinades, like lemon juice, are highly acidic; those bacteria don’t like that. Marinate your meat in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Remember to always keep it in a tight container to avoid spills.

Pre-cook Immediately

Pre-cook meat
Pre-cook meat

Pre-cook meat in the microwave before placing it on the grill to ensure it cooks thoroughly without burning outside and remaining raw inside. This also helps to reduce the risk of food poisoning from improperly cooked food.

After pre-cooking, refrigerate the leftover portions safely until you’re ready to finish cooking them on the grill.

Don’t Overload Your Grill

A grill loaded with meat
A grill loaded with meat

Putting a lot of meat on your grill may shorten grilling time, but we don’t recommend it. It increases the chance of fat drippings igniting, which can lead to dangerous smoke, flare-ups, and potential burns.

Furthermore, it will become more challenging to manage and flip the meat, resulting in uneven cooking.

Use a Meat Thermometer

Meat thermometer
Meat thermometer

Ensure that the meat reaches the right internal temperature, which is necessary for food safety. A meat thermometer eliminates guesswork and visual assessment, which can often be inaccurate, leading to undercooked meat that may harbour harmful bacteria or even overcooked meat. This way, you’ll preserve the juiciness and flavour of the meat.

Don’t Cross-contaminate Foods

Meat and vegetable on a grill
Meat and vegetables on a grill

Separate the raw meat and other food, like vegetables and fruits, area on the grill to prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating. Also, please use different utensils to handle the meat and other food to minimise the cross-contamination risk.

Always Turn Off Your Grill

A man turning off a grill
A man turning off a grill

Leaving a grill on poses fire hazards. Gas grills can leak gas, leading to potential explosions or fires. Even with charcoal grills, hot coals can ignite nearby objects if left unattended.

Hence, please create a self-reminder to always turn off your grill after every use. On top of that, continuous operation strains grill components, and regular shutdowns extend the lifespan of burners, valves, and other parts.

Don’t Leave Food Sitting Around

Food on the grill
Food on the grill

Keep your cooked meat temperature by storing it on the side of the grill rack after a maximum of 2 hours outside. By doing this, you’ll preserve its flavour and minimise bacterial growth.

Don’t Reuse Plates or Utensils

People gathering and BBQ-ing
People gathering and BBQ-ing

A study found a 78% risk of cross-contamination from raw to cooked pork when the same hands and utensils are used for handling raw and cooked pork. Conversely, no contamination was detected when different utensils were used.

This emphasises the importance of using different plates or utensils while grilling and eating your meat.

Keep It Spick & Span

A clean grill
A clean grill

Clean up your grill from gunk and food debris with a grill brush after every grilling session. Make sure to clean it when the grill is warm to ease the process and keep your hands from the risk of burning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What not to do when grilling?

When grilling, avoid common pitfalls like neglecting to clean, misusing fuel, skipping preheating, over-seasoning, and not allowing the meat to rest for optimal flavour and safety.

How do I protect my grill from the elements?

To protect your grill from the elements, choose a sheltered location, use a weather-resistant cover, and consider a grill mat or enclosure for added protection against wind and snow.

How do you protect your outdoor grill?

To safeguard your outdoor grill, use a durable, weather-resistant cover and secure it in a sheltered area to prevent damage from rain, wind, and extreme temperatures.

Conclusion

Enjoying a safe and healthy cookout requires mindfulness and preparation, from what outfit to wear to handling the meat and tools properly. Follow these meat grilling safety tips by McKays Family Butchers to ensure a fun and risk-free grilling experience with friends and family anytime. Happy grilling safely!