Gross grilling habits could be putting your family at risk - WNEM TV 5

Gross grilling habits could be putting your family at risk

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Memorial Day is right around the corner, the weather is warming up, and summer is on the way.

It's the time of year we begin to grill out, but does your focus on that spectacular steak, beautiful burger, or scintillating sausage have you forgetting about safety?

The sizzle of food is one of the sounds of summer and a burger on the grill is one of the sights of the season, but what about the things that can't be seen?

"The E. coli, salmonella - those types of things that are going to be most serious to us," said Michael Pinto, an environmental engineer and chief executive officer of Wonder Makers Environmental in Kalamazoo.

Pinto runs something called an ATP test, which is common in the food services industry and is a way to detect actively growing microorganisms.

The test involves a swab of a surface. The swab is then placed in an activation solution. A meter then supplies a number, which can be seen as a test score for cleanliness.

"Food grade clean is going to be anything that is 50 or less. Very clean would actually be 15 or less," Pinto said.

While a dirty grill may seem like a hunting ground for bacteria, the heat from the grill actually sterilizes the cooking rack.

However, Pinto said not to use the same spatula or tongs you cooked with to serve food. Also, do not use the same plate holding the raw meat for the finished product.

The key to all of this is to use a little bit of common sense.

"Don't let the science scare you away from summer," Pinto said.

It is important to take these issues seriously. Pinto said even a healthy person can potentially put their life in danger, with E. coli or listeria that can come from the meats we were cooking if the proper safety precautions are not taken.

Some more safety tips from the USDA include:

  • Keep everything clean
  • Separate raw and cooked foods
  • Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
  • Keep cold food cold
  • Keep hot food hot
  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers
  • Discard any food left out more than 2 hours

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