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Food Safety for Grilling Season

Father’s Day is coming up, and that usually means it’s also grilling season! Grilling is a great option for summer cooking since you don’t have to heat up the house by turning on the oven. BBQs and cookouts are a great, casual way to spend time with friends. But with warm weather and an unfamiliar cooking routine, it can be hard to have good food safety practices. Check out these tips for a healthy, safe grilling season.

Keeping Hands and Surfaces Clean

Be mindful of the basics when working in a new space. Grilling at a park can be great, but make sure you check out where you can wash your hands before cooking, and make sure the grill is clean before you start. Wipe the grill down with a damp paper towel before you start. You always want to start cooking with clean hands, utensils and surfaces. If you’re having a cookout at a park, make sure to bring a cooler with your raw meat on ice. Ensure that all meat items are separate from other ingredients in bags or containers that won’t leak. It never hurts to double bag raw meat to avoid the mess and possible contamination any unexpected leaks.

Marinating meats can be a great way to infuse flavor and tenderness into your grilled meat, but any leftover raw meat marinade needs to either be boiled or thrown away. If you’d like to have a sauce for your cooked meat, make sure to reserve some of the marinade before putting raw meat in it.

Planning Ahead for Easy Food Safety

Bring two sets of utensils and plates out to the grill. Use one set for raw meats, and the other set for cooked meat and vegetables. Make sure you know which one is which to avoid contamination. If you don’t have two sets, you can wash utensils and plates in between to make sure raw meat doesn’t contaminate your cooked foods.

Bring a food thermometer to the grill. It’s always tricky to know if meat on the grill is fully cooked. Uneven cooking temperatures can be challenging. Avoid the guess work and ensure your food isn’t under or overcooked by using a food thermometer. Check out this reference for the internal temperatures of cooked meats and poultry.

Don’t limit your cookout to just carnivores! Adding grilled vegetables to a BBQ is delicious and adds a great pop of color. Try using a grill basket or making vegetable kabobs. Keep in mind that you’ll want to cook vegetables that have a similar cooking time together.   Zucchini and eggplant, or bell peppers and asparagus can be great combinations and will cook up at similar rates.

Be sure to clean up when you’re done. Place leftovers in Tupperware in the refrigerator within an hour or two after cooking (if it’s above 90 degrees, you’ll definitely want to do it within an hour). If you don’t plan to be home within that time, plan ahead with ice packs and a cooler.

What are your favorite foods to grill?

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Blog Author:Lauren Seat - Sweet Life Wellness Intern
Lauren Seat
Sweet Life Wellness Student Intern
Dietetics student at University of Maryland-College Park


  1. Marcason W (2015) Clean Grilling. In: Accessed 7 Jun 2017
  2. Marcason W (2015) Complete List of Cooking Temperatures. In: Accessed 7 Jun 2017