Fire up the coals and enjoy a healthy and safe barbeque. We all have an important role in food safety and there are several simple steps to a safe grilling season. To improve the safety of your food, follow the USDA’s key food safety message of Clean, Separate, Cook & Chill during the grilling season and all year around.


Clean and scrub the grill to remove any charred food debris to reduce exposure to cancer-causing substances formed during high heat cooking. Heat the grill to kill microorganisms prior to placing food on it. Wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, dishes and counters with hot soapy water before grilling and preparing foods.


Separate raw meat & poultry from ready to eat foods during prep and grilling. Never place cooked meat on a platter that previously held raw meat. Clean utensils between contact with raw and cooked meats.


Use a clean stem thermometer to check the temperature of meats. Clean your thermometer between testing the temperature of different types of meat. Thermometers should be placed in the thickest part of the meat. Insert the thermometer 2- 3 inches. Ground meat is especially at risk due to the grinding process. Ground meat should be a minimum of 160° F, poultry 165° F, pork 160° F and steaks 145° F, per the USDA.


Always thaw protein items in the refrigerator or just prior to cooking in a microwave. Never defrost on the counter. Keep cold food cold until grilling or meal service. Refrigerate or freeze all food products within 2 hours. Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling. Bring extra ice in coolers.

High heat grilling may produce cancer-causing properties. Amino acids in meats react with creatine to form heterocyclic amines, which are thought to cause cancer. Grilling increases the risk because cancer causing chemicals are contained in the smoke and created by fat flare ups. To cut down on the formation of these amines:

  • Consider marinating meats - this may help reduce amines
  • Cook smaller pieces of meat
  • Choose lean meats to reduce flare ups

Following these guidelines can help lead to a healthy and safe barbecue with friends and family. Enjoy!

Contributed by: Deborah Schnurbusch
Registered Dietitian & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist
Healthcare Services Manager
Performance Foodservice - Thoms Proestler

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