Clean Grilling

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RD, CD
cleaning the grill

Eldad Carin/iStock/Thinkstock

The warm summer months are a time for grilling. While it’s a perfect time to get outside and put your grill to use, it’s also crucial to keep some food safety tips in mind to help prevent the spread of germs that may make you, your family and guests sick this season.

Wash hands before, during and after food preparation.

Proper hand-washing may eliminate a large percentage of food poisoning. Since bacteria can easily be transferred from hands to other foods and surfaces, always wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and soap, especially after switching tasks such as handling raw meats and then touching vegetables.

Wash plates between uses or use separate plates: one for holding raw meat, poultry and seafood; another for cooked foods.

The juices from raw meats and poultry aren't always easy to contain. They tend to spill over and/or leak on foods and surfaces. Because these juices may carry harmful bacteria, using two separate plates will help prevent cross-contamination, a leading cause of foodborne illness.

Clean grilling utensils with hot, soapy water.

After using knives, grilling tongs or forks to touch raw meats and poultry, clean thoroughly with hot soapy water before handling cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination. Too much hassle to clean the dishes while you're cooking? Use two sets of utensils at the grill: one for raw meats and the other set for cooked foods.

Use a food thermometer to check the doneness of meats, poultry and seafood.

Relying on color alone to check the doneness of foods isn't the best technique. A food thermometer is the only way to ensure food has been cooked to the proper internal temperature. Favorites like steak should be cooked to at least 145°F and allowed to rest for three minutes. Hamburgers and other ground meats should be cooked to at least 160°F, while chicken and turkey should be cooked to at least 165°F. The minimum internal temperature for fish and shellfish is 145°F.

Clean the grill according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Put a little extra elbow grease into cleaning the grill to kill any bacteria that may be lingering about.

Download: Safe Grilling Tip Sheet.

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