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Top Tips for Backyard Safety

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By Morgan Searle

He once stepped on a hot charcoal briquette and melted a pair of eyeglasses when they fell into the fire.

He divides food safety into four categories: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean: Thoroughly wash hands, cutting boards and utensils.
Separate: Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart to prevent cross-contamination.
Cook: Heating proteins to the correct temperature helps prevent food-borne illness. Gaian advised that chicken, which he calls the most difficult meat to grill, be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Chill: After food is prepared, it should be eaten or chilled immediately. Having a cooler or refrigerator handy will keep leftovers and perishable foods from spoiling.

“Keep hot foods on the grill and cold foods in the cooler,” Gaian says. “Perishable foods should never sit out more than two hours, especially in the summer when it’s well over 100 degrees.”

Gaian says the grill brush can pose a risk. The metal bristles can come loose, get into food and be swallowed. Gaian said he does not often use a grill brush for this reason.

Instead, the grill expert said he uses a wet rag and tongs to wipe the grill while it’s hot. He’ll also cut an onion in half and grip it with a barbecue fork or tongs to clean the grill.

“A lot of people my age grew up with dads telling us the gunk on the grill is flavor,” he says. “But it’s really not. It’s gunk on the grill.”

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