With the weather quickly looking more like summer, it’s time to pull out that propane and get your grill on. Before hitting the barbecue this year, keep in mind that grilling–while often a healthy cooking alternative–does have a few dangers to take into consideration. Keep yourself, your family, and your home safe during this year’s grilling season by brushing up on the best barbecue etiquette for your health and safety.
Danger #1: Carcinogens
The concern- It’s easy to turn on the grill and toss some meat on there for a quick meal. However, taking time to prepare your meat for grilling can make all the difference.
How to stay safe- Marinate. Some research has shown the vinegar and other ingredient in marinades can protect your meat, keeping it from forming carcinogenic compounds.
Danger #2: Burnt Meat
The concern-Much has been written about the potential cancer-causing compounds that can be created when meat is charred on the grill. It’s easy to look away from your task and overcook portions of the meat, creating burned portions that may be unsafe to your health.
How to stay safe- Cook your meat over the lowest possible heat setting to keep your final dish moist and uncharred. Add more veggies to your grill and cut back on the amount of meat you’re cooking to bump up the health and nutrition of your meal, while limiting the amount of overcooked meat you might serve.
Danger #3: Undercooked Meat
The concern- Because grills can heat to different temperatures in different places, and because meat isn’t always a uniform size, it’s easy to have thicker portions of meat end up less cooked than the thinner parts.
How to stay safe- Allow your grill to preheat with a closed lid for at least 15 minutes before cooking to ensure the most even heating of the grill before you place meat on it. Pounding thicker portions of meat to uniform thickness will also allow the meat to cook at the same rate from edge to edge.
Danger #4: Fire
The concern: Cooking over an open flame gives great flavor to your food, but it can create safety concerns.
How to Stay Safe: Keep a careful watch over your barbecue as you preheat, cook, and cool the grill. Trim excess fat from meat before cooking to reduce potential drips into your open flame or hot coals.
Danger #5: Clean-Up
The concern: Between ashy coals and splattery fats, grilling can leave quite the mess to clean up. Fats or foods from the grill that are left on the ground can create slippery spots on the pavement, as well as inviting insects to swarm on leftovers.
How to Stay Safe: Once you’ve cooked your food, completely clean the oil and grease off your grill by turning the heat to high and closing the lid for about 10 minutes. Use a scrubber with several drops of dishsoap to cut through any grease that has dripped on the ground, taking care to rinse the soap completely with water.