Grilling Food Safety

Let’s face it. America has had a love affair with backyard cooking for decades now, and grilling is more popular than ever.

The aroma of meat grilling is enticing, and the taste is simply delicious any time of year you have it, but grilling meat should follow certain guidelines to ensure each piece is safely cooked and ready to go.

Grilling experts offer some great tips for properly getting that meat to sizzle:

Marinades are strongly recommended because the acids found in blends that include wine, citrus juice or vinegar all provide protection from the growth of bacteria. Always place your meat in its marinade in a covered container kept in your refrigerator.

Marinate and chill your meat before grilling for at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better, and discard any leftover marinade.

Before hitting the grill, you can pre-cook your meat in the microwave, on the stove or in the oven to get the process going. The only caution here is to immediately place your pre-cooked pieces on the grill. Do not let the meat sit out too long because partially-cooked meat is also vulnerable to the growth of bacteria.

It is also essential that you have an extra set of grill utensils and plates to separate your cooked meat from the raw pieces. Have separate tongs, knives, spatulas and other utensils for handling both raw and cooked pieces.

There are all kinds of grill thermometers to choose from for grilling. A thermometer can accurately check when your meat is done and is a very important step to remember during the grilling process.

You could use a wireless thermometer, one that is Bluetooth-enabled, a probe type or several other kinds. It will determine the internal temperature of your ribs, chicken, steak, fish, etc.

To do it properly, grilling pros recommend inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat but not touching any bone. For example, if you use a digital thermometer, it is super-fast and accurate and can give you a reading in two or three seconds. A digital grill thermometer can be found at stores like Home Depot and only costs about $12.


Undercooked meat is just as dangerous as overcooked meat.  You want to avoid putting too much char or blackened areas on your meat.

Don’t try and guess if a piece of meat on the grill is ready just by poking it see the color of juice that emerges. Also, merely looking at the color of the inside meat doesn’t accurately determine if it is cooked enough.

There are meat grilling guides available online that give excellent recommendations for every type of food item you place on a grill.

Most importantly, your grilling times will be affected by three factors, including the type of food, its thickness and the desired doneness.

Here are a few popular grilling foods with their temperatures and times:

New York Strip, 1 inch thick, 8 to 10 minutes (rare 125F), 10 to 12 minutes (med. 140F), 12 to 14 minutes (well 170F)

Pork Chops, 3/4 to 2 inches thick, 10 to 12 minutes (med. 145F), 14 to 19 minutes (well 170F)

Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, 4 to 5 ounces each, 10 to 12 minutes (well 180F)

Once your grilling is done, allow the meat to rest as it will raise the internal temperature a little and lets the juices redistribute.

Place the food on a clean plate, and enjoy!