Quick Recipes and Easy

Barbeque Safety Tips – Don’t Start Cooking Without These

The barbecue is a time to savor the smells of roasting meat and to delight in the company of excellent friends. It is a time-honored social gathering and a way nearly to get back to nature. The next time you hold a barbecue, check your guest list. Not everyone on the list is your friend. Who are the terrible guys? Bacteria.

We live in an atmosphere swirling with fungus, yeast, mold, and bacteria. Normally these microscopic meddlers pose no problem to us. It is only when they find a suitable habitat and grow out of control that they can cause us harm. Bacteria are some of the most perilous, because they flourish on what your are about to place on the grill: raw meat.

Here are some barbecue safety tips to help ensure that your cookout is a trip down memory land instead of a trip to the emergency room.

Use Proper Meat Handling Procedures

Dirty hands and cooking utensils can spread bacteria around a kitchen like a tornado. Always wash your hands both before and after handling raw meat. When preparing for your barbecue, never reuse a plate or container that has held raw meat. If you marinated your raw meat, never pour the marinade over partially or fully cooked meat, or place cooked meat back into the marinade. You may be adding harmful bacteria back into the meat.

Use Proper Cooking Temperatures

Heat kills most bacteria. Cook your barbecue meats to the proper temperatures to kill any unwanted bacteria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following minimum grilling temperatures.

Cook ground beef to 160 F (71 C)
Cook steaks to at least 145 F (63 C)
Cook chicken breasts to 170 F (77 C)
Cook pork to 160 F (71 C) for medium or 170 F (77 C) for well done.

Note that these are the recommended minimum internal temperatures of the meat. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the items being grilled, especially of you have thick cuts of meat. Never use a dirty meat thermometer. Always wash it thoroughly between uses so that your aren’t reintroducing bacteria back into your food.

Pregnant Women Beware!

If you are pregnant, let someone else handle all the raw meat preparation and grilling at your barbecue. You shouldn’t touch the raw meat dishes either, so let someone else clean up. Finally, if you are at someone else’s barbecue, let your hosts know of your bacterial concerns and make sure they follow proper grilling procedures. You may want to bring your own meat thermometer.

Barbecue Safety Isn’t Hard

Soap and water, common sense, and a clean meat thermometer can take the bacterial worries out of your next barbecue.

Billy Bristol is the editor of

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