July’s National Grilling Month is a great time to look at your parents’ habits when they’re grilling a meal outside. Are they taking the right steps to avoid food poisoning? If they’re not following these food safety recommendations, it’s important that they change their habits.
Meats Need to Stay Refrigerated
When they’re grilling meats, the meat needs to stay refrigerated. If they want to marinate their meat, they can do so in a bowl or storage bag and place it back in the refrigerator. The meats shouldn’t be left out on a counter for an extended period.
If your parents are grilling at another location, they should fill a cooler with ice. Always keep the meat on ice until it’s needed. Make sure they don’t leave it in the sun to warm up and develop bacteria.
Keep the Grill Away From Structures
Fire codes urge homeowners to keep grills 10 feet away from homes, deck rails, and other structures. If the grill is not that far away, a fire could spread and cause a lot of damage. Plus, homeowner’s insurance may refuse to cover damages that are caused by a grill that was not a safe distance from a structure.
Use a Meat Thermometer
Ask your parents if they check the internal temperature of meats when they’re being cooked. Pork should be at least 145 F, chicken needs to be at least 165 F, and ground beef patties need to be 160 F. If the temperature is too low, they should keep cooking it.
After checking the temperature, if it’s not correct, they need to take the thermometer inside and wash it. They do not want to reuse the meat thermometer if the potential bacteria hasn’t been removed. If they do, they’re introducing the bacteria to the meat each time they check the temperature.
Keep Foods Covered
Flies and insects may spread bacteria if they’re able to get to the meat your parents are grilling. Things need to stay covered. When meats are fully cooked, they should be covered by foil or placed in a container that has a tight-fitting cover.
Fully Cool the Grill Before Putting It Away
Once your parents are done cooking and cleaning up, they shouldn’t put the grill away until it has fully cooled. They may need to leave it out overnight to ensure it’s cool enough before putting it back in the garage or a shed.
If meal preparation is posing a risk, have you talked to your parents about having in-home care providers stop by and cook their meals? In-home care aides can cook their meals, go grocery shopping for them, and talk to them to get menu ideas.