Barbecue Food Safety Tips

While barbecuing outdoors can enhance the flavor of the food as well as provide health benefits, it is also important to take safety precautions.

A great barbecue can go quickly downhill if someone gets hurt because the host or guest failed to exercise proper safety precautions when preparing the food. Just because you are outdoors doesn’t mean you can fore-go any (or all) safety precautions.

Safety precautions are probably more important outdoors because you usually have more guests during outdoor parties than are customary when you invite people into your home.

There are exceptions, of course, but most people invite fewer people when they have dinner parties than for barbecues. One of the most important things to remember is even if you are cooking on the grill the food you cook will still be hot.

That means it is necessary to still have gloves or mitts for handling the containers in which you place the food and cooking utensils you use to transfer the food to the serving containers.

Neither you nor your guests should make any attempt to remove food from the grill or from the serving container or plate with bare hands.

While hot dogs may cool pretty quickly, the same is not true of other grilled meats, especially those that have grease such as hamburger, steak, pork chops and ribs. Even without the grease, you can experience a severe burn from the hot cooking juices such as barbecue sauce, hot butter and the like.

Another essential safety tip is proper disposal of charcoal briquettes or treatment of the gas grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, you must never dispose of the charcoal on a wooden surface or anywhere near the house.

When you are finished cooking, allow the grill to cool down and place the charcoal in dirt or sand away from the house or place it into a galvanized steel or aluminum container (never use plastic), cover it with dirt and place it away from the house. You can also use water to cool the charcoal before you cover it with dirt or sand.

If you are using a gas grill turn off the gas when you are finished cooking and move it away from the house until it completely cools down—the next day is even better.

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