Outdoor grilling time…but is it as safe as you think?

The weather is warming up outside and people are returning to their outdoor grills.  I do love to BBQ but the news this morning reminded me that there are some dangers to this way of cooking.  The first story was about an Ecoli breakout, which they are still trying to find out what caused it.  But they did mention that these breakouts do tend to happen more during the summer months because people are grilling more, but the meat isn’t cooked enough.  The 2nd story was about a man who went into the ER because his side had been hurting for a few days.  The doctors suspected appendicitis and went in to do the surgery.  They cut him open to find out he already had his appendix taken out!  So they did a little more digging and found some wires off of a grill brush in his intestines and realized that is what was causing the discomfort.  Wow. 

There are also concerns of 2 carcinogenic byproducts forming from grilling red meat, pork, poultry, lamb, and fish called Heterocylic Amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).     The HCAs are formed due to the high temperatures when meat is over cooked or char grilled.  Studies have shown rats formed cancer in many organs when fed HCA in their diet.  Does it happen in humans?  Not sure, but it’s something I would really caution when grilling.  The PAHs are formed when the fat on the meat liquifies, due to the high temperature, and drips down onto the coals.  That causes the smoke to flare  and can possibly bring the carcinogenic residue right back up to your food. 

So here are a few suggestions for some clean outdoor grilling:

  • Cook at lower temperatures.
  • Raise the grilling surface farther from the heat source.
  • Marinating and flipping the food often will help lower the amounts of char.
  • Grill leaner cuts of meat and poultry.
  • Avoid cross contamination by not using the same plates or utensils that you did on the raw meat.
  • Get a good digital thermometer.
  • Buy a new wire brush to clean the grill every year, or when you see rust and wear.  (Just buy a new one)
  • Grill vegetables instead.  😉
  • Put the meat in a foil tent and the meat will steam inside.  (You’ll still be outside enjoying the sun but also enjoying your clean bill of health!)
  • When making kebobs, don’t forget to soak the wood sticks in water first, that way they won’t burn.

This blog is not to be a downer on grilling!  But I just want people to be more careful when doing it. 

Enjoy the sun, enjoy your friends, enjoy that grill…just use caution.