Long days and beautiful weather make the summer months perfect for grilling outdoors. There are many different types of grills and cooking methods to cook your meat and poultry.
Regardless of what grill you use, food safety is essential to make sure you do not get yourself or family and friends sick. Here’s a quick overview of each general type of heating source for the home grill and specific food safety tips when grilling.
• Charcoal: Using charcoal imparts a smoky flavor on the foods you’re cooking. Watch out though, as charcoal grills can get up to 700 degrees! Hot grills can quickly brown the outside of meats, giving the meat the appearance of being “done.” However, the internal portions of the meat may not be cooked to a safe temperature. Always use a food thermometer to verify a safe internal temperature has been reached.
• Gas and propane: While gas and propane grills will generally provide less of a smoky flavor compared to charcoal, they can be heated to cooking temperatures very quickly, and the heat can be controlled more precisely. If you are cleaning the grill surface with a wire cleaning brush, carefully inspect the grill for bristles that might have come off of the brush or consider using other grill cleaning methods or products.
|Check out these tips to learn more about safe grilling! |
(Photo courtesy of the USDA)
• Campfire: With so many options for cooking techniques — grilling baskets, skewers, metal grate, Dutch oven — and the addition of that wonderful smoky flavor, campfire grilling can be an appealing option. But watch out! Fatty foods can produce grease, which if exposed to flames can cause flare ups. Cold spots in the fire can lead to cold spots in the food.
Whichever types of grilling you do, always use a food thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry is safe to eat. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees. Beef, pork, lamb and veal — steaks, roasts and chops — should be cooked to 145 degrees with a three-minute rest time. Ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees, while whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry should reach 165 degrees.
Keep in mind that when grilling, some foods cook faster than others. You may need to keep cooked food hot — above 140 degrees — while waiting for other pieces to reach a safe internal temperature. If that is the case, create different levels of heat by positioning charcoal on one side of the grill, or turning heating elements higher on a specific side. The high heat area will allow for cooking, while the lower heat side can be used to keep food warm until serving.
If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline or email or chat via Ask Karen or Pregúntele a Karen.
Get more tips on safe cooking outdoors with this USDA fact sheet.
Have a safe, happy and tasty Fourth of July!