National Grilling Month in 2022: How to Grill Meat Safely
When is National Grilling Month?
While most designated National Months are pretty random, National Grilling Month is easy to remember. It's the month you'd be most likely to throw a backyard grill-out – July!
Plus, National Barbecue Day is July 13th.
What's the History of National Grilling Month?
July was named National Grilling Month in 1963, which means National Grilling Month 2022 is the 59th annual celebration.
Suspending meat over an open flame is the earliest cooking method there is. It's probably older than manmade fire itself, with early humans using wildfires or lightning strikes to their advantage.
Backyard grilling became popular after World War II. The middle class was booming, suburbs were thriving, and an inventor named George A. Stephens invented the first backyard grill (dubbed George's Barbecue Kettle) in 1950.
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How Do You Grill Meat Safely?
In this world, it's grill or be grilled.
Kidding. We frown on cannibalism around here.
Grilling poses much more common dangers, though. Nobody wants to invite the whole neighborhood over for food poisoning. So how do you make sure you're not serving up a big plate of E coli? Take a page out of the professionals' playbook and take food safety precautions followed by restauranteurs.
First, ensure your cookout meat is safe when you buy it. That includes inspecting the packaging and the meat itself for any signs of tampering, damaging, or spoiling. Buy from a reputable source to ensure that the meat has been properly refrigerated or frozen at all stages.
You'll need enough fridge or freezer space to safely store the meat until you grill it. Dangerous microbes double every 20 minutes when meat sits outside refrigeration. They can reach numbers high enough to make you sick within 4 hours. You need to follow certain rules for thawing, cooking, and leaving meat out at room temperature.
If you freeze the meat, plan enough time before your event to thaw everything in the fridge. Don't take the meat out until the grill is fully pre-heated. Putting it on the grill at too low a temperature can cause unsafe microbial growth.
Never wash meat. It's unnecessary and you're likely to spread pathogens all over your sink and nearby surfaces. Marinate in the refrigerator and use a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat to guarantee you cook everything to a safe temperature (at least 140°F, depending on the meat).
During Your Cookout
When handling and cooking raw meat, you need to be careful to avoid cross-contaminating surfaces, utensils, and other food with dangerous pathogens. Wash your hands often. Wash your grill before and after each use and keep the utensils and plates used for the raw meat and the cooked meat separate. Anything that touched raw meat should be thoroughly washed before they're used for anything else.
Cook in small enough batches that everything gets eaten promptly. If you have any cold food out, like salad or fruit, keep it on ice so it stays fresh and safe to eat. Cooked meat and ready dishes definitely shouldn't be left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours.
Happy National Grilling Month 2022!
With these precautions and a little planning, you'll keep everyone safe and satisfied. We wish everyone a happy, enjoyable National Grilling Month!