Safety Matters When Cooking Outside

Outdoor cooking has its own set of troubles when it comes to food safety.  With the lack of kitchen setup as well as the great outdoors around the raw foods, you need to be extra careful when you are feeding people from the grill.  Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to keep your meals safe than you might realize. With a little planning and a bit of common sense, your outdoor grilling can be just as safe as a sit down dinner and a lot more fun than being cooped up in the kitchen all day.

Before you even begin outdoor cooking, you need to make sure your cooking and preparation surfaces are clean.  Take some time to scrub down your grill grates with a wire brush first and then empty out the grill of the ashes.  Next, make sure to wipe down the handles and the surfaces that will be used with an antibacterial soap or spray.  This will help to minimize any remaining germs that might be hanging out here from your last cooking adventure.  And of course, make sure all of the grill utensils are also clean and germ free.

When you are bringing food out to cook, you will want to keep raw meats on one plate and cooked meats on another plate.  This way, you aren’t transferring any germs from the uncooked meats to the cooked meats plate.  If you’re not sure which plate is which, you may need to simply go get a new plate to be certain things are safe.  This is also a good idea when you are cooking raw vegetables – they should have their own plate too during outdoor cooking adventures.

It is also a good idea to only bring food outdoors when it is ready to be cooked.  This is especially the case when it’s hot outside.  Foods that are meant to be kept cool will not last long in the sun, for example.  So, if you have raw meats that need to be cooked, it will be safer to leave them in the refrigerator until they’re ready to go on the grill.  This is also a good tip for salads and other cold things that you might be serving.

In addition, since foods are going to be outside after outdoor cooking, you will want to make sure they are covered up as much as possible to protect them from bugs.  Once you have served everything, it will also be a good idea to remove anything from the party that is more than 2 hours old.  After 2 hours, germs and bacteria can replicate quickly and cause food borne illnesses.

Of course, outdoor cooking isn’t just about keeping things safe from germs, you will also want to keep your knives in a place where they can not be easily accessed by those who may get hurt – i.e. children.  It will also be a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of fires in the grill.  Wearing an apron will also help to protect the person at the grill from hot splatters of grease or sauce.