To say that 2020 is unusual is an understatement. So many things have changed, been cancelled or just plain interrupted. As we all learn how to cope month after month, there is at least one thing we can still participate in—the summertime barbeque! It’s a tradition, an American tradition, and it brings out
smiles and laughs for everyone. July has always been the peak month for backyard barbeques, and this year doesn’t have to be any different. But before you take the cover off the grill, don’t forget a few safety tips.
Seven out of 10 households in the United States have a grill or smoker. Whether you barbeque with charcoal or propane, you want to be cautious. Keep the lighter and the fluid away from the grill and away from children. With propane, you also need to check the hoses to ensure they are not frayed,
cracked or leaking. And, always use propane rather than gasoline—they are 2 completely different liquids with different results when lit. Finally, don’t grill in a garage or near an overhang—you should always be at least 3 feet from a building.
Watching the flame is not the only concern you should have. There is nothing better than the smell of food on the grill, but make sure that food is prepared and cooked properly to avoid poisoning. When purchasing meat, buy it last at the grocery store and take it immediately home. Separating it from other
groceries and placing the packages in plastic bags can also protect from cross contamination. Finally, when it is time to grill, keep the meat and seafood refrigerated until transporting to the BBQ.
Cleanliness also plays a key role in an enjoyable afternoon. Wash your hands with soap both before and after handling raw meat or seafood. Also, thoroughly clean surfaces and utensils used in the process. Try to stay away from wire bristled brushes to clean your grill grates—small shards of wire can stick to the grill and may dislodge into your food while cooking. Finally, if any marinades or sauces come in contact with raw meat or seafood, they should be disposed of rather than re-used.
You are finally ready to cook that much anticipated meal. Be sure to use a food thermometer so meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. The following temperature guidelines should be followed:
- 225°F to 300°F –for the inside of the smoker grill
- 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
- 145°F – fish
- 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
After grilling, keep those items at 140 degrees or warmer until served and be sure to put leftovers in closed containers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking (1 hour if above 90 degrees outside).
Maintaining these guidelines, and keeping safety at the forefront, will ensure your backyard barbeque will be a success and a fun celebration during these crazy times. Go out and enjoy!