I bet, when you think of the great mid-summer barbeque party, friends and family gathered about, fine food and merriment flowing, somehow explosions, flames and bacteria are not at the forefront of your mind. They are though lurking in the shadows waiting to jump. The casual mood of the grill party doesn’t always lend itself to a level of vigilance that the occasion calls for. Here are some BBQ safety tips, including some food safety tips. We hope these grilling safety tips help keep your BBQ party on the side of fun and good times.
5 Grilling safety and food safety tips
1. To work right, it has to be assembled right.
If you haven’t put the cooking unit together probably, right from the start you’re setting yourself up for problems. Placing a gas barbecue’s gas tank hose too close to the firebox or the grease pan poses a significant fire risk. The manufacturer’s assembly manual will be clear about this; read it carefully. If you have any further concerns, ask if the retailer will assemble the grill for free or a fee. Though, if you take this latter approach, do be sure that the assembled grill fits into your vehicle. Otherwise, you could pay an additional fee to have it delivered. Yes, that does add some money to the purchase cost. But it’s better than an exploding party.
2. Heed the call.
Product recalls are made for a good reason: the product’s defective. It could even be dangerous. Just because your grill isn’t used daily and might be a bit out of sight out there on the deck, don’t be negligent about responding to recalls. Cooking with a leaking regulator or a cracked hose certainly increases the probability of serious trouble. More than one million grills have been recalled over the past five years. Each summer, before you fire the grill up for the first time, find out if your barbecue grill has been recalled by searching the database at SaferProducts.gov. And if you are having problems of your own, that aren’t addressed there, you can file a report.
3. Don’t squeeze “just one more” on.
Flaring is of course a normal result of grilling fatty foods. You do want to be cautious about sustained flare-ups though. Typically, these are controlled by ensuring a proper distance between the grates and burners or flavorizer bars. It is certainly more difficult though to manage both the cooking and the flaring if you overcrowd the cooking surface on your grill. If you keep some space empty, fatty foods such as rib-eye steaks or salmon, when they do flare up, can be moved to a cooler spot on the grill.
4. Brown on the outside, hot on the inside.
A pretty sure fire way to wreck a nice BBQ party is to give the guests food poisoning. That can be an especially tricky matter when grilling meats and poultry, because they often brown quickly on the grill. This might create the illusion that they are in fact thoroughly cooked, especially if the cook is a little too much in the party spirit. Don’t trust to the look-test; use a meat thermometer to ensure that your guests’ food is cooked enough to destroy harmful bacteria. A pretty safe rule of thumb is to aim for a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F for whole meats, including pork, and then a three-minute rest before slicing. Ground meats should reach at least 160 degrees F, and all poultry should reach 165 degrees F or higher. Finfish should be cooked until it reaches a minimum of 145 degrees F or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. Some people get the idea of doing a partial cook before the guests arrive, then just finishing them, for a quick cook, once the party is started. This is a bad idea. Do not do it.
5. Don’t play with fire.
If you skip the safety check and regular maintenance on your barbecue grill, you could indeed be playing with fire. Start each grilling season with an inspection of the unit. Check the hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Replace any broken grill parts. You can check for gas leaks with this handy little trick: mix a small amount of dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle. Squirt the solution over connections and along the hose, then turn on the tank. If you see bubbling of the solution you need to change a part or fix a loose connection on your barbecue grill. Always read and heed the manufacturer’s manual on regular maintenance, paying particular attention to cleaning of the grease trap. Also a good idea, especially with the first cook of the season, is to be sure the gas supply tubes are clear of spider nests or any debris that may have gathered over the winter.
BBQ season is upon us. We hope that these BBQ safety tips, including some food safety tips, help you establish the grilling safety tips to keep your BBQ party safe, happy and delicious.