Summers are a perfect time to have that barbecue party out in your backyard, what could be better than hanging out with friends and family and enjoying grilled food during the summer heat? Grilled steaks are not only beautiful to look at but also mouth-watering and healthy to eat as they don’t require any extra fats, oils or heavy breading for cooking.
However, like every other thing out there, there are some dangers in grilled food that you need to be aware of. Cooking and preparing grilled meat properly is very important as under cooked meat (especially pork and chicken) can lead to food poisoning, unfortunately food poisoning may be nasty in some cases. Cases of food poisoning are more common than you might think, in fact every year, almost 76 million Americans suffer from cases of food poisoning ranging from mild to fatal.
The most common food that causes food poisoning is meat, poultry and animal products. Food poisoning is mostly caused by bacteria such as E. coli and other microorganisms such as salmonella that are regularly present in meat products like chicken and beef.
When we cook food with the right temperatures, these micro-organisms are generally killed, however, improperly cooked food means that they are not killed and that is where the problem starts.
However, contrary to what most people think, cooking food properly doesn’t just start when you put the food on the grill, it starts at the preparation. So, here are a few safety tips that will help you in perfectly grilling meat so that you can enjoy it without any worrying!
Tips during preparation:
Always keep raw food away from other foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, this helps prevent cross contamination between foods.
The next point to remember is that you should cut raw meat on surfaces away from where you store fruits , vegetables and other food. After the cutting is over, clean properly everything that has come in contact with the raw meat , including cloth, knife and cutting board. Use hot water and a clean cloth for the washing and cleaning.
Keep your hands clean. Request everyone else who is handling the food to do the same. Rinse hands and wrists with soap for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly wash with water before and after handling the meat. This will prevent contamination from spreading through handling of food items. Hygiene is very important to maintain a clean and healthy cooking environment.
The bacteria commonly found in food cannot survive at very high temperatures and freezing temperatures. If you are not cooking the meat immediately after bringing it home from the market, then it is a good idea to store it at freezing temperatures. If the food is already cooked and you have some extra leftover, you can alternatively store it at temperatures not lower than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t always go by the color to determine whether the food has been cooked or not. It is a good idea to place a Thermometer in the thickest parts of the meat and measure the temperature to see if those parts have reached the required temperatures. Since those are the places that cook the slowest, perfect cooking in those regions will indicate that the meat as a whole has been cooked.
Throw away the part of the food on which any insects sit upon. Insects are some of the largest carrier of germs and it is not worth the risk to eat any food on which they came in contact with. When you are not eating make sure to keep your food covered.
Store raw meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill, 20 minutes before grilling take out of refrigerator and to allow to cool down to room temperature.
Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking and make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). The grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat.
Microwave the meat for two minutes and then pat the meat dry so there’s less juice to drip into the grill.
Instead of instantly maintaining a high temperature, cook the meat for a longer time at a lower temperature. Flip the meat every minute.
Avoid the charred parts while eating grilled meat, you can put a tin foil with holes in it under the meat while cooking and this will allow less smoke to reach the meat.
Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. When outdoor temperatures reach 90˚F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour.
Make sure that your grill is clean.
Hope you found this article helpful !