6 Things to Know Before You Fire up the Grill

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many of the estimated 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 food-related deaths that occur in the United States each year can be attributed to improper food handling and storage, especially in warm weather.

To help keep you and your family safe, healthy and happy all summer long, review the following food-safety tips from ProMedica Wellness dietitian Nathan Drendel and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

1. Keep it clean. Start by cleaning the grilling surface with hot, soapy water before each use. Nathan adds, “This is especially important if it’s a public grill.”

2. Marinate in the fridge. Always marinate food in the refrigerator, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. Also, never reuse marinade.

3. Cook food immediately after ‘partial cooking.’ If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.

Nathan Drendel

4. Befriend your food thermometer. Make sure your food is cooked thoroughly by following this guide:

  • Steaks and roasts: 145 F
  • Fish: 145 F
  • Pork: 160 F
  • Ground beef: 160 F
  • Egg dishes: 160 F
  • Chicken breasts: 165 F
  • Whole poultry: 165 F
  • Shrimp, lobster and crabs: Cook until pearly and opaque
  • Clams, oysters and mussels: Cook until the shells are open

“Don’t cut corners with these temperatures,” says Nathan. “The quickest way to turn a cookout sour is by serving undercooked meat which could sicken someone.”

5. Serve cooked foods hot and then refrigerate. Grilled food can be kept hot (and not overcooked) by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals) until ready to serve. Grilled food should go in the refrigerator after everyone’s eaten. Nathan says leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours or within an hour if it’s very hot outside (90 degrees or higher). Grilled foods have about a 3-day lifespan in the fridge; “After that, toss them out,” says Nathan.

6. Don’t reuse utensils. Using the same platter or utensil that came into contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood allows bacteria from raw food to spread to the cooked food. Keep clean, ready-to-use platters and utensils grill-side. “A quick tip to help prevent this is to have two sets of grilling utensils–color coded or distinctly different–so you know which ones to use for raw foods and which ones to use for prepared foods,” suggests Nathan.

Fire Up the Grill

Try one of these easy grill recipes:



Find more healthy recipes.