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When talking about grilling safety, I usually think about food safety – cooking foods to safe temperatures to prevent food borne illness, proper handling before and after cooking, etc.  However, two weeks ago, I stepped out onto my patio when I noticed a large cloud of smoke in the sky. As I looked around, I watched as a home in my neighborhood went up in flames. The quickness and intensity of the fire was overwhelming.  

Luckily, no one was hurt, but the brand new home that the family had only lived in two months, was a total loss.

The cause of this fire?  Grilling in the garage!  I’ve seen people pull their grill into the garage to avoid rain drops but I don’t think anyone in our neighborhood will ever do that again. This gave a new meaning to me for the term grilling safety.

How can you protect your family from this type of loss?

The National Fire Prevention Association provides a great fact sheet with safety tips when grilling. 

Tips from them and others include: 

·         All BBQ grills should be used only outdoors.

·         The grill should not be placed near any part of the home, deck railings. Place it at least 10 feet from any structure.

·         Never grill inside a garage or carport.

·         Keep it clear of eaves and overhanging branches from nearby trees.

·         Keep the grill clean – remove grease buildup from the grills and trays below the grills.

·         Never leave your grill unattended.

·         Do not attempt to move a hot grill.  

There are also safety tips specific to the type of grill you are using. 

·         For a gas grill, check the gas tank for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

·         Always make sure the lid is open before lighting it.

·         For charcoal grills, use care when starting the coals. If using starter fluid, use only one made specifically for lighting charcoal.

·         Keep the lighter fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

·         When you finish grilling, cool the coals completely before safely disposing of them in a metal container. 

In addition to these tips, it is a good idea to keep a spray bottle of water close and also a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it! A fire can grow quickly and you won’t have time to read instructions if that happens.  

I really enjoy grilling out  in the summer with family and friends. I know that I will not forget these safety tips and hope that you keep them in mind the next time you fire up your grill. 

Sources: 

Grilling Safety, National Fire Prevention Association. (2016) https://www.nfpa.org//-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/Grilling_safety_Tips.ashx 

AgriLife Extension experts offer tips on grilling, food safety (July 2016), https://today.agrilife.org/2016/07/25/agrilife-extension-experts-offer-tips-on-grilling-food-safety/ 

Tips for summer grilling safety, (2015) http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/news/2015/tips-for-summer-grilling-safety 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu 

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A man bastes meat on a barbecue grillWith fall sports comes food and tailgating.  What are the game rules for food safety?

1.       Wash your hands.  And everything else that will touch the food including dishes and utensils.  This is the most important part of your event.  Harmful microorganisms can be easily transferred from your hands to food and cause foodborne illness to occur.

2.       Bring along a food thermometer.  Cook foods thoroughly.  The color of the meat is not enough to know if it is done.  The only safe way to know if your food is done is to use a food thermometer.  Cooking food to proper temperatures ensure that harmful bacteria will be destroyed.

Food Item

Internal  Temperature

All poultry

165° F

Ground meats (except poultry)

160° F

Steaks and Chops

145° F

Hotdogs and Brats

165° F

Ribs

160° F

3.       Pack several coolers.  Raw food should be stored separate from ready to eat food.  And, ice used for beverages should always be kept in a separate cooler.  Keep it cold – below 40° F.

4.       Have disposable or extra plates and utensils available so that you don’t have to reuse utensils for raw versus cooked foods.  Don’t cross-contaminate.  Raw juices from uncooked food can transfer bacteria onto cooked food if you use the same plate or utensils without cleaning them.

5.       Don’t forget to pack containers or wrap for leftovers.  Food needs to stay hot at 140° F or stay cold at 40° F to be safe.  When you are finished eating, safely package leftovers away at the proper temperatures to be safe.  Food should not set out at unsafe temperatures for longer than 2 hours.

Source:  University of Minnesota Extension, Tailgating Food Safety, http://www1.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/safe-meals/tailgating-tips/tailgating-food-safety-fact-sheet/

FDA Consumer Healthy Information, Keeping Bacteria at Bay, www.fda.gov/consumer

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

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fourth july

Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate our independence with picnics, barbecues, parades, fireworks and family gatherings. Let’s celebrate safely this Fourth of July with the following safety tips.

Food Safety Practices

•Perishable foods are limited to 2 hours sitting at room temperature (just one hour if it is over 90 degrees). Keep cold foods on ice. Hot foods can be kept hot on the grill. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and discard any perishable food that has been out too long in the hot temperatures.
• Use a clean platter and grill spatula to take the cooked food off the grill. The juices left on the grill spatula during grilling and the platter used to hold the uncooked meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.
• Use a food thermometer to determine if the grilled meat is done. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to ensure it has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

o Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
o Hamburgers (ground meats) cooked to 160 degrees F.
o Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F.
o Hot dogs should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Grilling Safety

• Never grill indoors, in the garage, carports, under awnings
• Always keep your grill away from house siding, railings, trees and anything else flammable
• Check gas grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks
• Keep children away from the grill

Be a Safe Swimmer

• Never swim alone
• Be sure children are supervised at all times

Parades

• Keep children away from floats and vehicles traveling on a parade route
• Be sure children know what to do if they become lost or separated from parents or supervisors
• Designate a meeting place as soon as you arrive in a public location
• Remember to keep your cell phone battery charged.
Leave fireworks to the professionals
• It is not worth the risk to end up injured playing with fireworks.
• Enjoy the fireworks display in your community!
Stay safe and celebrate this 4th of July!

Resources: fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education

Author: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family & Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewers: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, MFCS, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Elizabeth Smith, RD,LD, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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Corncobs and meat on grillAs the weather warms up and fresh vegetables are readily available there are many good choices to add vegetables to your outdoor grilled meals.  It not only keeps the heat out of the kitchen, it adds variety to your family meals.  Outdoor grilling can be a healthy, low-fat way to cook.

  • Place large vegetables such as corn on the cob and asparagus directly on the grill.
  • Smaller vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes should be washed and cut into uniform pieces. Place them in an aluminum foil packet or a vegetable grilling basket.
  • For added flavor, marinate for 15 minutes before grilling by tossing them with a mixture of 2 parts oil, one part lemon juice, a crushed garlic clove and other herbs of your choice.
  • Make kabobs by putting the vegetables on a skewer, or use aluminum foil or a vegetable grilling basket
  • Cook on a medium-hot grill, turning them often.
  • When easily pierced by a fork, they are done.   

Vegetable Kabobs

2 large green peppers, cut into 1” squares

2 medium onion, quartered, separated into sections

2 small zucchini, cut into 1” pieces

4 small yellow squash, cut into 1” pieces

12 whole mushroom

1 bottle fat-free Italian salad dressing

Place vegetables in a non-metal dish, pour Italian salad dressing over all and mix.  Marinate vegetables in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Drain vegetables and thread alternately on skewers. (Or use a foil pouch or vegetable basket.) Grill kabobs 15-20 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.  Makes 4-6 kabobs.

Sources:

Penn State Extension http://extension.psu.edu/health/nutrtiion-links/recipes

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Are You a Nutritious Grill Master?  G2048  http://extension.unl.edu/publications

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

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As summer kicks in full force more of us will be outdoors heating up the grill.  If you are like me, I don’t want to heat up the kitchen so I head outside with the food.  Some simple steps will keep your food safe.

KEEP COLD FOOD COLD

Keep meat in the refrigerator until ready to go on the grill and then take out only food that will be put on the grill immediately.  Foods spoils quickly as temperatures rise.

KEEP EVERYTHING CLEAN

Make sure you have plenty of clean utensils available for your outdoor grilling.  Never place cooked food on a platter that has held the raw food.  And, don’t forget to wash the thermometer.

COOK FOODS THOROUGHLY

Use a thermometer to check internal temperatures of meat.  Don’t rely on color.  According to USDA research, one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it’s been cooked to the safe internal temperature.

SAFE MINIMUM INTERNAL TEMPERATURES

· Whole, ground and poultry pieces: 165 °F

· Ground meats, such as ground beef and ground pork: 160 °F

· Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F

allow to rest at least 3 minutes.

Finally, always refrigerate leftover food within 2 hours.  Refrigerate within 1 hour when temperatures rise about 90°F

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Food Safety Information, USDA, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/pdf/barbecue_food_safety.pdf

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Are you planning a cookout or family picnic for this weekend or a summer holiday? You probably heard the same data I did that almost 75% of us grill out on Memorial Day and up to 90% on 4th of July. Of course the survey was done by Weber-Stephen Products, so they love for us to grill out. A plus of grilling foods as it heats up outside, is that using a grill instead of your oven will help keep your home cooler and save on energy costs. Unfortunately with these cooked out foods we often also see an increase in food borne illnesses, so basic food safety practices are an important part of any cookout. Some of these food safety grilling guidelines include:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before, during, and after food prep – especially after touching raw meats or hot dogs.
  • Start with a clean grill; make sure you remove any charred food debris from the last time you cooked out.
  • Check the expiration date on any meat product, especially hot dogs or brat type meats, to ensure you are starting with a safe product.
  • Grill completely thawed meats to ensure even cooking.
  • If you are using a marinade on grilled meats, never use the marinade that has raw meat drippings in it on top of partially or fully cooked meats. Either save some of the mixture before adding meat to it, or make a new batch to add during grilling.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is completely cooked – ground meats like burgers should reach 160 degrees, poultry 165 degrees, and pork or beef 145 degrees.
  • Place cooked meats on a fresh platter, rather than the one you brought it out to the grill with.
  • Remember the old saying “Keep Cold Foods Cold, and Hot Foods Hot”, if it is over 90 degrees foods shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour – rather than the typical 2 hours.
  • If you are transporting foods to your cookout, ensure proper storage with coolers or warmers for already cooked foods.

In addition to safely preparing grilled foods, it is also a good idea to keep in mind the research on grilled meats and cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research char grilled foods and those that are high fat have been shown to produce the cancer causing compounds heterocyclic amines or HCAs, and PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Meats cooked at high temperatures, especially those that are charred, have been linked to high levels of HCAs. The PAHs are formed from the fat of grilled meats flaming up, so by selecting lower fat cuts of meat, you can reduce this risk. Marinating meat has been shown to reduce the risk of HCAs forming by over 90% – even marinating for less than 30 minutes. If you are planning to marinade your meats or vegetables before you grill consider your recipe before you start. While grilled foods are often more healthful than fried, marinades frequently contain ingredients that are high in sodium. Check the label on commercially prepared grilling or barbecue sauces for hidden sodium or fat. To make your own, add herbs and a drop of olive oil to fruit juices and toss in a little balsamic vinegar. Try the following: lemon or lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, honey, garlic, vinegar, wines, mixed with your favorite herb.  Fruit or vegetable salsa is also a tasty and easy choice as a marinade. You may want to grill your vegetables in addition to meats, good choices are: peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus, eggplant, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and summer squash. Beets, carrots, and even radishes can be grilled too.

To grill safe choose vegetables or low-fat meat cuts that you marinade with juice and herbs and slow cook to prevent flare ups; use the proper grill tools; wash your hands and utensils; keep a water bottle handy to prevent flare ups; use a meat thermometer; and “Keep Hot Foods Hot, and Cold Foods Cold”. The University of Illinois Extension has a few easy grilling recipes for vegetable kabob, roasted corn, and banana boats at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/grilling/recipes.html.

 

Sources:

American Institute for Cancer Research, AICR: http://www.aicr.org.

USDA, Food Safety & Inspection Service: http://www.foodsafety.gov/.

University of Illinois Extension, Carol Schlitt, “Keep Food Safe When Grilling” and Marjorie LaFont, “Outdoor Grilling Recipes”: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/.

WebMD, A Healthier Way to Grill: http://webmd.com.

Weber-Stephen Products: http://weber.mediaroom.com/.

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties.

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The end of the gardening season brings a variety of healthy foods for your family.  Are you still harvesting corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, squash and onions?  What else do you have still growing?  There are many vegetables which are available well into the fall season.

Garden vegetables are naturally high in fiber, low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals which help you feel healthy and energized.

Healthy ways to cook vegetables:

  • Bake a potato for lunch, top with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Boil turnips and potatoes.  Mash them together and season with salt and pepper.
  • Steam cabbage and season with caraway seed, salt and pepper.
  • Stir Fry zucchinni, yellow squash, tomatoes, and onions with olive oil and fresh herbs.
  • Saute a variety of different colored peppers and serve as a side dish.
  • Roast winter vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, rutagaga, beets, and sweet potato at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Coat lightly with olive oil and fresh herbs and spread in a even layer in a baking sheet.
  • Wrap corn on the cob in aluminum foil and Grill until tender.

Source:  Produce for Better Health Foundation, www.fruitandveggiesmorematters.org

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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