Some basic food safety tips could be the difference between your best and worst grilling experience. The following tips will save you some guess work at the grill and leave your guests happy and healthy.
Safe food preparation tips
- Wash your hands before handling food or use food-safe nitrile gloves.
- Clean hands are the starting point of any meal preparation. Consider using nitrile gloves with your grilling prep too. Nitrile gloves are my preferred method for handling meat of any doneness since I can peel them off and dispose of them when I move from handling chicken to beef. Wearing a pair of gloves will help you realise how often you touch your face while cooking. Avoid wiping your hands on your clothes – rather grab a clean towel.
- Avoid cross-contamination by cleaning your prep area after handling raw meat
- Prep raw meat first, completely clean your prep area and then move on to other items e.g. vegetables that will be served raw. Let your grillware or cutting boards dry completely before using them again. A benefit of prepping your meat first is that you can let it marinade in a fridge while you prepare everything else.
- Don’t leave meat at room temperature for too long.
- Letting meat come to room temperature before grilling it is one of grilling’s great myths. Meat left out for too long can spoil. Rather take it out of the fridge right before you are ready to prep and grill it – the results will be the same and you avoid spoiling the meat.
Keep your grill clean
Burn off your grill followed by a good brush before you cook on it. Smoke is a sign that there’s organic matter on your grill that needs to burn up before you start grilling. Season your grids once the grill is clean and ready for the next BBQ.
If you want to know more about how to clean your grill, follow our cleaning and seasoning guide.
Avoid cross-contamination on the grill
Here at Broil King HQ we teach grillers the assembly line grilling method. It allows your raw items to travel from the left-side shelf (RAW) to the right-side shelf (COOKED), avoiding cross-contamination. Keep your raw and cooked meat separate by using different boards or dishes and you should even use two tongs – one for raw meat and one for cooked meat. Colour-coded tongs (like this Broil King 3-pack of grilling tongs) help you remember which tong you’re using for what e.g. the red tong for raw meat, the green tong for cooked meat.
You can also prevent cross-contamination of food through your marinade by only applying it to cooked meat that’s going to be on the grill for another 20 min. Rather keep fresh marinade aside to baste the meat with while it cooks. The sauce the marinaded your meat isn’t totally wasted – you can use it as a sauce by heating it to 150F (66C) or above for 10 minutes. A layer of froth will develop on top of the sauce – skim it off the surface.
Avoid allergic reactions by cooking food containing allergens separately
If someone in your group is allergic to a menu item, consider cooking it last or on a separate grill to avoid cross-contamination. Also use serve these items on separate platters.
For how long should I cook meat?
A thermometer is the best way to determine doneness and avoid serving undercooked meat. It’s also the best way to avoid the disappointment of serving an overcooked piece of steak.
The below chart illustrates optimal doneness levels. You’ll notice that ground meat has a higher doneness point than other meats. This is because ground meat needs to be cooked thoroughly to ensure it’s safe to eat.
These internal temperatures have been approved by the US Food Safety Association (USFDA).
|Food||Type||Internal Temperature (°F)|
|Ground meat and meat mixtures||Beef, pork, veal, lamb||160|
|Fresh beef, veal, lamb||Steaks, roasts, chops
Rest time: 3 minutes
|Poultry||All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing)||165|
|Pork and ham||Fresh pork, including fresh ham
Rest time: 3 minutes
|Precooked ham (to reheat)
Note: Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140°F
|Eggs and egg dishes||Eggs||Cook until yolk and white are firm|
|Egg dishes (such as frittata, quiche)||160|
|Leftovers and casseroles||Leftovers and casseroles||165|
|Seafood||Fish with fins||145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork|
|Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops||Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque|
|Clams, oysters, mussels||Cook until shells open during cooking|
How to safely serve food
When you remove your cooked items from the grill they will release juices. A cutting board with a moat (like this deluxe Broil King cutting board) will prevent them from running off the board and onto your table.
Many household cutting boards are made for food prep and not service. Soft wood cutting boards absorb juices and might give off old flavours, ruining the roast you just put on it to serve.
How to safely reheat food
Your grill makes reheating food easy. It keeps your leftover pizza crisp and fresh … unlike the soggy slice you get after reheating in a microwave. It’s important to take your time when reheating food. Leftovers have already been cooked and you just want to bring it safely back to its former glory. Reheated items need to hit and maintain 165F (74C) or come to a rolling boil in the case of soups and sauces.
Once leftovers have been reheated and served you can’t save them as leftovers again. Sadly there are no second chances for leftovers.
Ben – Culinary Director