Summertime = grilling, and as we kick off the season, we want to share 5 grilling basics and tips for enjoying this activity safely!
Firing up the grill is synonymous with the summer season, so before you get out there to enjoy this summertime activity, we at Azuluna Foods wanted to share five important grilling food safety tips to keep you, your friends, and your family safe!
Safety Tip #1: Cook Thoroughly
Proper cooking temperatures are crucial to kill any harmful bacteria present in raw meat. Use a food thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches safe levels. Here are a few guidelines:
- Poultry (chicken, turkey): 165°F (74°C)
- Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb): 160°F (71°C)
- Steaks, roasts, and fish: 145°F (63°C) with a 3-minute rest time
- Remember to check the thickest part of the meat to ensure it's fully cooked.
Safety Tip #2: Avoid cross contamination of raw and uncooked foods
When barbecuing do not reuse any of the brushes or tongs, or utensils that touched raw products to serve or brush on cooked foods. This prevents bacteria from raw foods from coming into contact with cooked foods. Keep cutting boards separate for cooked meats and vegetables from raw food prep sites, including sinks.
Safety Tip #3: Handle Leftovers with Care
Store your grilling leftovers in shallow containers to allow for a quick and efficient cool down, and refrigerate within two hours of cooking. Consume the leftovers within 3-4 days, reheating them thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.
Safety Tip #4: Know and limit your exposure to carcinogens
There is a strong association between grilling and the risk of carcinogens, or substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Anytime somebody cooks over high heat, especially an open flame, and charring occurs, you are exposed to two primary carcinogens HCA’s (heterocyclic aromatic amines) and PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These substances can cause changes in DNA that can increase the risk of cancer. It’s important to remember that everything we ingest is going to have the power to improve our overall health and well-being or make that objective more challenging to our bodies.
Here are a few ways to minimize your exposure while still enjoying grilling.
- Shorten the grill time by partially cooking meats and veggies inside the house before grilling.
- Make sure the cuts of food are smaller so they require less time on the grill and avoid charring.
- Minimize how much grilled food is consumed at one time.
- Serve your grilled foods with a side of uncharred vegetables and fruits, which provide antioxidants that interfere with the formation of carcinogens.
- Be mindful of nitrates and nitrites in cured hotdogs and sausages. These compounds can form carcinogenic nitrosamines. We recommend avoiding high-nitrate meats.
- If consuming red meat, limit your overall intake.
- Trim the fat off animal proteins to minimize the number of carcinogens produced.
Safety Tip#5: Make the most of your marinades and side dishes
Marinades not only add flavor but can also provide an extra layer of protection against harmful bacteria and carcinogens. Fruit-based or herb-based marinades containing vinegar or citrus juices can not only help kill bacteria on your protein source but can also provide antioxidants that mitigate carcinogens created in grilled, charred items, like the marinade used for our Braised Jerk Chicken. Remember to marinate your food in the refrigerator and discard any leftover marinade that has come into contact with raw meat. Combining foods with high nitrosamine potential with vitamin C food is another great way to minimize your exposure to cancer-causing compounds. For example, serve your barbequed protein or vegetables with a tomato salad or strawberry-vegetable salad on the side.
Grilling can be a fun and delicious way to enjoy food and enjoy spending time outside. By following these simple food safety tips, you can minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses and ensure a safe and enjoyable grilling experience. If you’re looking for high-quality animal protein sources for your next grilling session, check out our pasture-raised meat boxes. So fire up that grill, cook your favorite dishes to perfection, and savor every bite with peace of mind!