With summer in full swing, July is primetime for firing up the grill. Keep your barbecue parties safe with these six tips:
Both gas and charcoal grills should only be used outside. Keep the grill away from your house, deck rails and overhanging trees. Maintain a 3-foot safe zone around the grill (try drawing the boundary line with sidewalk chalk to keep children from getting too close).
Clean your grill each time you use it to remove grease and fats that could start a fire. After grilling, allow spent coals to cool before discarding them in a metal can with a lid. If using propane, make sure the flow of gas is turned off after you’re done.
Never leave a grill unattended. Make sure pets and children steer clear of the grill, and keep all matches and lighters away from children. In addition, teach children to report any matches or lighters they might find to an adult immediately.
If you use a propane grill, follow these safety guidelines:
If you use charcoal to grill, keep these safety tips in mind:
Grilled meats may be delicious, but they might be cause for concern if not cooked properly. You should use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. The Department of Agriculture recommends cooking ground meats to at least 160 degrees, chicken to 165 degrees and steak and pork to 145 degrees.
Cooking meats at high temperatures — such as on a grill or barbecue — can lead to the formation of compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Research has found that exposure to these compounds might cause some types of cancers.
There are no federal guidelines for limiting exposure to HCAs and PAHs, but the National Cancer Institute suggests steps you can take to minimize the risk:
To learn more about how diet affects cancer risk, take our Nutrition and Cancer Quiz.