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Grilling Safely: 10 July 4 BBQ Tips to Reduce Risks

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By    |   Friday, 30 Jun 2017 12:31 PM

It's high season for grilling and backyard barbecues, with July 4 celebrations planned across the country. But experts say it’s important to be aware that the popular summer pastime is riddled with minefields when it comes to health and food safety.

“Grilling is generally a healthy way to cook food if you take certain precautions,” says registered dietitian Joan Salge Blake, an associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Here are some tips from Blake and other experts:

Avoid food contamination: Mixing cooked food with juices from raw meat is a big no-no. “When it comes to food safety, we have to be careful about cross-contamination,” Blake tells Newsmax Health. “People bring the raw meat out on a platter, grill it and then put it back on the same platter without washing it. That’s how you can transfer pathogens that can cause a range of food-borne illnesses.”

Use a thermometer: You can’t trust your eyes to tell you whether or not meat is cooked enough. “One in four hamburgers turn brown prematurely, before they are at a safe internal temperature to be consumed,” says Blake. “Rather than trust our vision to determine if food is safe to eat, use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal heat is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Keep the flame down: Cooking with high heat from an open fire creates carcinogenic compounds in beef, pork, poultry, and seafood. So while that flame-licked steak or salmon may have a great grilled flavor, it also contains heterocyclic amines (HCAs) from the charred part and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the fire’s smoke. Lab studies suggest that they can cause mutations in DNA that may boost the risk of cancer.

Pre-cook meat: One way to reduce HCAs and PAHs is to partially cook meat — by boiling or microwave — before grilling it. That will reduce the time it is exposed to the high heat and smoke that creates these dangerous compounds.

Flip frequently: “You want to keep turning the meat to keep it from getting charred, because that’s where the [biggest] problem is,” says Blake. “If it does get charred, don’t eat that part.” Aim to flip grilled foods at least once a minute.

Foil flare-ups: One thing that can make the flame flare up is when fat from the meat drips down to the heating source. Blake suggests putting some foil down on the grill, which will keep the melted fat from hitting the flame.

Use marinade: Studies show that marinades can significantly reduce the HCAs and PAHs in grilled meat. Researchers believe it works by helping to keep the meat moist, and it can also improve flavor. One study showed that using the herb rosemary lowered HCA levels by 90 percent. Other things that can cut down on the bad compounds are garlic, onion and honey.

Watch your sauce: Blake warns not to use the leftover marinade for a sauce on the grilled meat, unless you cook it as well, because it could contain bacteria and other pathogens from the raw meat.

Grill veggies: “One of the best things you can do for overall health is to grill more vegetables than protein sources,” says Blake. “They don’t produce HCAs and PAHs, and they have a wide range of health benefits.”

Be fire smart: The most obvious health threat of grilling is the fire itself. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, about 9,000 blazes are sparked by grills every year, causing an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries and more than $100 million in property damage.

Using common sense can reduce fire risks. The NFPA cites the main fire causes as placing the grill too close to anything that can burn, not cleaning it regularly, and leaving it unattended. If you’re using a propane grill, don’t turn the gas on for too long before lighting it. You should also check lines and connections for leaks.

© 2017 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

 
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For many Americans, July 4 celebrations wouldn't be complete without a family backyard barbecue. But experts say it’s important to be aware that the popular summer pastime is riddled with minefields when it comes to health and food safety.
Grilling Safely 10 July 4 BBQ Tips to Reduce Risks
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2017-31-30
Friday, 30 Jun 2017 12:31 PM
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