This is the second part of the grilling safety article in which some key issues about food preparation on a barbecue are dealt with.
In this, the second article about grilling safety we will look at safe cooking temperatures, reheating and serving. Getting these right is really important.
Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 °F. All poultry should reach a minimum of 165 °F.
SAFE MINIMUM INTERNAL TEMPERATURES
Whole poultry: 165 °F
Poultry breasts: 165 °F
Ground poultry: 165 °F
Hamburgers, beef: 160 °F
Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops):
Medium rare 145 °F
Medium 160 °F
All cuts of pork: 160 °F
NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs, grill to 165 °F or until steaming hot.
Keep Hot Food Hot
After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served -- at 140 °F or warmer.
Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200 °F, in a chafing dish or slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Serving the Food
When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than 1 hour.
Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).
Smoking is cooking food indirectly in the presence of a fire. It can be done in a covered grill if a pan of water is placed beneath the meat on the grill; and meats can be smoked in a "smoker," which is an outdoor cooker especially designed for smoking foods. Smoking is done much more slowly than grilling, so less tender meats benefit from this method, and a natural smoke flavoring permeates the meat. The temperature in the smoker should be maintained at 250 to 300 °F for safety.
Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature.
Pit roasting is cooking meat in a large, level hole dug in the earth. A hardwood fire is built in the pit, requiring wood equal to about 2½ times the volume of the pit. The hardwood is allowed to burn until the wood reduces and the pit is half filled with burning coals. This can require 4 to 6 hours burning time.
Cooking may require 10 to 12 hours or more and is difficult to estimate. A food thermometer must be used to determine the meat's safety and doneness. There are many variables such as outdoor temperature, the size and thickness of the meat, and how fast the coals are cooking.
Does Grilling Pose a Cancer Risk?
Some studies suggest there may be a cancer risk related to eating food cooked by high-heat cooking techniques as grilling, frying, and broiling. Based on present research findings, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats like fish, meat, and poultry cooked -- without charring -- to a safe temperature does not pose a problem.
To prevent charring, remove visible fat that can cause a flare-up. Precook meat in the microwave immediately before placing it on the grill to release some of the juices that can drop on coals. Cook food in the center of the grill and move coals to the side to prevent fat and juices from dripping on them. Cut charred portions off the meat.
So to summarise, make sure that the food you cook on your grill is properly cooked by monitoring the internal temperature, avoid charring and if you really must reheat, reheat thoroughly.