Memorial Day is upon us, and for some, it’s the start of BBQ season. When it comes to BBQ risks, they fall into two categories; the hazards of fire and the dangers of unhealthy food preparation. In either event, you or your guests could end up in a hospital emergency room. With a homeowners policy form Brady Insurance Group you’ll be covered for fire damage to your home and possible liability for injury to guests. But we’d like to take care of you further with food safety guidelines that will protect your family and friends from outdoor foodborne illness during warm Florida months.
We’re covering healthy BBQ cooking tips first because some readers might know-it-all about BBQ fires and not read on to health hazards. And it’s true if you read the literature that came with the new grill you might move on to another website. If you never learned about the fire hazards of grilling, then we’ve got you covered in the second part of our post.
Tips for Healthy Grilling
Safe food handling is critical because foodborne bacteria thrive at warm-weather outdoor BBQ’s. Food safety starts with transporting your food to the grilling site; then once you’ve arrived, there are additional measures to prepare and serve it safely.
1) Safely Pack and Transport Your Food
2) Keep cold food cold by placing it in a cooler with frozen gel packs or ice. Storing cold food at 40 °F or below will prevent the growth of bacteria. Packing poultry, meat, and seafood while still frozen will keep them colder longer.
3) Organize cooler contents by packing perishable foods in one cooler and beverages in another. Beverage coolers are usually opened and reopened which diminishes the cooling effectiveness for perishable foods.
4) Prevent cross-contamination. Securely wrapping poultry, raw meat, and seafood keeps their juices from contaminating other prepared or cooked foods. Using plastic containers with secure lids will provide additional protection for foods that will be eaten raw, like fruits or vegetables.
5) Clean all produce. Before packing fruits and vegetables in a cooler rinse them under running tap water. These should include fruits and vegetables with skins and rinds that are not eaten. However, don’t just rinse, rub firm-skinned vegetables and fruits under the running water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing.
Use a clean cloth towel or paper towel to dry vegetables and fruits before packing them in a cooler. The only produce you don’t need to wash our vegetables and fruits labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed.”
7 Safe Grilling Tips
Between the fun and complexity of a BBQ, it can be easy to forget common sense food preparation practices. If this is your first BBQ, these tips will serve you well, and if you’re a master, and a little rusty, these tips would be an excellent refresher.
1) Follow Safe Cooking Temperature Guidelines. Grilling is often part of most picnics. For food to reach the table safely use our guidelines. See our cooking temperature chart. Print it to reference often.
2) Marinate safely. Foods should marinate in the refrigerator. Marinating on your kitchen counter or outdoors is a breeding ground for bacteria. The seasoned marinade can be used on more than one cooked food but reserve a portion separately before adding it to other poultry, raw meat, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
3) Grill immediately after “partial cooking.” Partial cooking before grilling is useful for avoiding high heat that lasts longer than 10 minutes. To help keep carcinogens from forming and to kill E. coli requires a high enough temperature which can take longer than 10 minutes. More than 10 minutes may not be to your taste. Pre-cooking is suggested by The American Cancer Society to minimize carcinogens caused by high temperatures. To be safe, partially cooked food must go on the hot grill immediately, for example at home with a barbecue on a deck or patio.
4) Check a thermometer to cook food thoroughly. Always use your thermometer for confirmation. (See Safe Food Temperature Chart)
5) Keep cooked food hot before serving. If your grilled food is not served immediately, it can be kept warm by moving it to the side of the grill rack, away from the coals. Moving cooked food off the burners prevents overcooking while keeping it hot.
6) Don’t reuse utensils or platters. Bacteria from the raw food juices can spread to the cooked food if you use the same plate or tools. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready to serve your cooked food.
7) Checking for foreign objects in food may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised when a detached bristle from your grill brush makes its way into your food. To a guest, that experience will be worse than a fish bone.
Serving Picnic Food
Keep Cold Foods Cold and Hot Foods Hot
Keeping food at proper temperatures — indoor and out — is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is never to let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” — between 40 °F and 140 °F — for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 °F. Warm temperature is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.
Follow these simple rules for keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Fire Hazards Of Grilling
As insurers, we see statistics every day and BBQ season is one of the most notable. What should have been a Norman Rockwell BBQ picture postcard, last year became a tragedy at almost 9,000 homes with BBQ accidents causing injuries, deaths, and millions of dollars in property damage.
Homeowners insurance from Brady Insurance Group will have you covered for fire damage and possible liability for injury to friends, but we’d like to see you safely enjoy the fun of outdoor BBQ’s.
Gas grills are the greatest risk accounting for 80% of all grilling fires. However, if used carelessly or incorrectly all types of grills can be a danger.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers simple precautions we’re sharing here.
1) For All BBQ Grills
• All barbecue grills should be used outdoors only.
• Place grills at a safe distance from the home and deck railings. Do not put grills under eaves or overhanging branches.
• The grill area should be a No Children and No Pet zone.
• Keep grills clean. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grill and in trays below the grill.
• Never leave a BBQ unattended.
2) For Charcoal Grills
• The only starter fluid should be charcoal starter fluid. After your fire starts, never add any flammable liquid including charcoal fluid.
• Keep charcoal starter fluid away from heat sources out of a child’s’ reach.
• Charcoal starters that don’t use flammable liquids are common. If your grill has an electric starter be sure to connect it with an extension cord rated for outdoor use.
• If you want to throw away your coals after cooking be sure they cool completely and dispose of them in a metal container.
3) For Propane Grills
Almost one-third of gas grill injuries happen during the lighting or relighting of the fire. These events pose a risk of explosion and can occur when the flame goes out during cooking. Often grill owners haven’t read the manual to see the critical procedure to follow when relighting. A video depicting a real accident can is at http://www.nfpa.org/grilling.
• Check for leaks before using it for the first time each season and when changing tanks. Check the tank connection and hose if it has one. Applying a light soap and water solution will release bubbles if there is a leak.
• If you smell gas or the soapy suds detect a leak, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. Call the fire department if the leak doesn’t stop. If the leak does stop, have a professional service the BBQ before using it again
• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately move away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
Before you leave, download the article for Handling Food Safely, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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