Taking time to be safe… Memorial Day kicks off grilling and picnics

Published 11:02 pm Friday, May 28, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS

STAR STAFF

ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

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As May closes out and many prepare to spend Monday celebrating Memorial Day as the official beginning of the grilling and picnic season, it bears in mind that safety should always come first when getting ready to fire up the grill and making sure food is cooked and stored properly.

Sam Raines with Blossman Gas has prepared five grilling safety tips for those who will be loading down their grills with steak, chicken, and hamburgers for the days and weeks ahead.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Raines shared that whether it’s assembly, maintenance, or cleaning, keep your grill manufacturer’s instructions close by for any questions involving your grill.

Keep the top open when starting a propane grill, and don’t close it until you are sure the grill has lighted.

Check for Leaks

Always remember that before connecting the cylinder to a propane gas grill burner for the first time, use a leak-detection solution (a 50/50 mixture of water and liquid soap) to check connections for leaks.

Expanding bubbles indicate a leak. Follow this procedure every time you replace a cylinder.

Use Appropriate Relighting Procedures

While cooking, if your flame goes out, turn off the gas and refer to your owner’s manual.

At a minimum, with all grill models, keep the lid open and wait at least 15 minutes before relighting.

Stay Attentive

Raines said that it was important to never walk away from your grill but stay close and never leave your grill unattended.

Shut it Down

When not in use, grill burner controls should be turned off and the cylinder valve closed.

And while grill safety is important, it’s just as important to make sure to cook and store food properly to prevent bacteria away.

Many people may be grilling on their own for the first time. One important lesson for first-time grillers is to remember that color is never a reliable indicator of safety and doneness.

Use a food thermometer to ensure the following safe internal temperatures:

– Cook poultry (whole or ground) to 165 F.

– Cook beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to 145 F. For safety and quality, allow the meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

– Cook ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to 160 F.

– Cook egg dishes to 160 F.

– Cook fish to 145 F.

And lastly, follow the one-hour rule on hot days. What is the one-hour rule you may ask?

When the temperature outside rises above 90 F, perishable food such as meat and poultry, dips and cold salads, or cut fruits and vegetables are only safe to sit out on the table for one hour.

After one hour, harmful bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness, may start to grow. To prevent this, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

According to a recent USDA survey, nearly 85 percent of participants said they don’t keep cold foods on ice when they serve them.

Keep cold foods at an internal temperature of 40 F or below by keeping food on ice or refrigerated until ready to serve.

In the same survey, 66 percent of participants indicated they did not keep their cooked foods, like burgers and hot dogs, warm after cooking.

Hot perishable foods should be kept warm (above 140 F) until they’re eaten or refrigerate leftovers within one hour.

For your safety and the safety of your family, it is important to grill safely so that you may enjoy your summer with your family and friends.

Take the extra time to cook your food and store it properly when finished.

It’s time to enjoy the summer in a safe way.