When preparing your foods on a grill, be aware of hidden barbecue dangers; however, safety starts before getting to the grill-out. Be sure to transport food and drinks properly:
• Keep meat and beverages in separate coolers, as the beverage cooler will be constantly opened and closed, allowing heat to enter.
• The meat cooler must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as bacteria can start growing in temperatures above that.
• Keep the cooler in your car, not the hot trunk.
• Don't pre-cook meat before transporting it to decrease the risk of bacterial growth.
• Wash your hands before and after you handle food. (Use hand wipes if you don’t have access to a sink and faucet.)
• Seal meat in a plastic bag so the juices don’t leak onto other food in a container.
• Use a meat thermometer, inserted into the center of your meat, to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.
Barbecue fare can be very high in fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears recommends choosing a 4 ounce cut of top sirloin beef with 11 grams of fat over a 4 ounce porterhouse cut, which has 25 grams of fat.
But while you may choose to grill lean meats, remember that most barbecue sauces contain 44 grams of sugar in just a quarter cup! Try The Doctors' Healthy Summer Marinade for a tasty and lower-calorie alternative!
Barbecuing meats can create heterocyclic amines, a carcinogenic compound. Minimize charring your food, and make sure to clean your barbecue frequently. Decrease carcinogenic smoke from barbecue flare-ups by spreading aluminum foil on the grill, making small holes so fat from the meat can drain.
Safe Grilling Tips:
1. Don't Char Meats
Grilling meats at a high heat can cause carcinogenic chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to develop. Studies have shown that people who eat well-done or charred beef are three-times more likely to develop cancer than those who eat it rare or medium-rare. But, OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson warns that pregnant women should never eat meats that are rare or medium rare, and they must make sure the meat they eat is cooked all the way through.
• How pink is too pink when cooking meat?
Studies show that marinating meats before grilling them can reduce toxic compounds by up to 90 percent.
Guide to Cooking Meat
• Cook beef steaks, fish and lamb to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit
• Cook pork and ground meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit
• Cook chicken breast to an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Don't Cross-Contaminate Your Tools
To avoid transferring bacteria from raw to cooked foods, use one set of utensils and plates for uncooked meats and another set for vegetables and cooked foods.
3. Use Chemicals Sparingly
To avoid contaminating your food with harmful chemicals, don't use lighter fluid, or only use a small amount. If you use charcoal briquettes, look for all-natural versions, because many contain additives.