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Categories > Diet and Nutrition > Food safety

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Fire up the grill!
But read these food-safety tips first

Does grilling cause cancer?

Some studies suggest a link between cancer and meats cooked by high-temperature methods such as grilling, broiling or searing. The high temperatures have been known to form chemicals that cause cancer in animals. Some experts believe when fats drip onto the coals, they form chemicals in the smoke that lands back on the meat. Here’s how to reduce your risk:

  • Don’t eat blackened or burnt parts.
  • Precook meats in the oven or microwave and then grill them immediately to finish cooking.
  • Eat less grilled meat by cooking smaller portions and substituting meat with grilled vegetables or fruit.

Is it done?

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test meat’s doneness. Grill precooked meats such as hot dogs to 165 degrees F until steaming hot. Refer to the chart below to determine when cooked meat is safe to eat.

Meat productSafe temperature
poultry180 degrees F
pork160 degrees F
beef, ground160 degrees F
beef, steaks or roasts145 degrees F
veal145 degrees F
lamb145 degrees F

For many people, summertime fare means fresh, fast, no-fuss meals cooked outdoors. However, barbecuing and dining al fresco can have their risks. Warm temperatures can set the stage for a nasty bout of food poisoning. Take these precautions to make sure your meals are delicious and safe:

  • Defrost thoroughly. Place frozen foods in the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing. If meats are out too long, bacteria can produce illness-causing toxins that remain active even during cooking.
  • Marinate right. Keep foods refrigerated while marinating. For best tenderizing and flavor, marinate foods for at least 30 minutes. Set aside some marinade that has not come in contact with raw food for dipping or basting.
  • Transport safely. When traveling, use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or cold packs to maintain a temperature of at least 40 degrees F. Pack the cooler last in the coolest part of the car—not the trunk. When you arrive at your destination, move the cooler into the shade, avoid opening it frequently and replenish ice. Use a separate cooler for beverages and foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Bring extra plates and tools. Use one platter and spatula, tongs and sauce brush for raw foods and a different platter and utensils for cooked foods. Don’t use a fork to turn meats since puncturing can introduce surface bacteria into the meat.
  • Keep clean. Bring paper towels and disposable wipes or a sanitizing gel for convenient hand washing and surface cleanup.
  • Prepare the grill. Light the coals and allow the cooking surface to heat up to kill microorganisms before putting on the food.
  • Cook meat thoroughly. Don’t rely on your eyes to check for doneness. Sauces and spices can make meat appear cooked when it’s not, and hamburger meat often browns before reaching a safe internal temperature.


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