Safety tips to keep in mind before firing up grill this Fourth of July

Safety tips to keep in mind before firing up grill this Fourth of July

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - On the Fourth of July, we can expect hot grills and a good time, but before we turn on the heat, we need to remember a few grilling safety tips.

First, find out what you’re cooking with, propane or charcoal.

“I prefer the charcoal over the propane as far as for a family cookout,” said Carlos Twillie, owner of TwilliePhilly in Hattiesburg. “The main thing with those [propane] is going to be watching your gas, your actual tank. If you think you leak, the way I’ve always been taught is to check it with some dishwashing liquid. Put it over an area where you think it may be a leak at it and your connectors and if it’s a leak it’s going to bubble, it’s going to show you.”

Now on to cleaning and sanitizing your cooking area and the grill.

“The main thing is going to be just to sanitize, get you some cleaner,” Twillie said. “Anywhere that you plan on storing meat before or after it’s cooked, you want to make sure it’s clean. Of course, you want your grill clean. You don’t want any remnants of your last time grilling on your new food.”

To prevent foodborne illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says to never use the same platter, cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods.

When cleaning is done, you can start cooking.

Meredith Carothers with USDA explains how meat should be kept before going on the grill and how to check if the meat is fully cooked.

“Cold sources like ice packs, frozen water bottles, are great options to help keep food cold,” Crothers said. “If you are at home or somebody else’s home, you can use a refrigerator and other coolers and ice baths and stuff to keep your products cold as you’re preparing to serve them or getting ready to cook them.”

You should always keep meat cold until it is ready to be thrown on the grill.

“Make sure you’re cooking your products to a safe internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer,” Carothers said. “This is really to make sure that you’ve cooked your products to a high enough temperature to kill any of that harmful bacteria that can make you sick.”

After you’ve cooked the meat, you should make sure it stays hot until served.

According to the USDA, food below 90 degrees has two hours before bacteria reaches a dangerous level and one hour for that to happen if it’s above 90 degrees.

Also, remember to keep your cooking area free of running children and animals.

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