How to Know If It's Done

check your grill, then check your temp

V1 Staff

Check Your Grill, Then Check Your Temp

If you’ve ever taken a piece of meat off the grill only to return it moments later because it wasn’t done, you’ve probably asked yourself each time “How am I supposed to know when it’s done?” Fortunately, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) Division of Food Safety has the answer for all the backyard chefs of summer.

“The meat industry has put in a huge effort to prevent contamination with pathogenic bacteria. But raw meats and poultry may still sometimes contain these disease-causing organisms. Consumers can minimize the risk of foodborne illness by properly cooking meat and poultry when they grill out,” says Steve Ingham, division administrator.

While many outdoor revelers rely on a sense of timing, the food safety experts at DATCP say the best method for testing the safety of grilled meats is to use a thermometer which has the temperature sensor at its tip – not partway up the stem of the thermometer.

DATCP also advises you to go by the USDA’s recommended safe cooking temperatures. It’s important to note that many recipes cite estimated times. So, instead of watching the clock, refer to your thermometer.

“Guessing can lead to problems, either in terms of safety (under-cooking) or quality (over-cooking). Take the guesswork out of the process – we recommend using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer,” Ingham says.

Generally speaking, beef roasts including bone-in or boneless rib roast, rump, and tenderloin should reach 145°F for medium rare, 160°F for medium, and 170°F for well-done. Ground beef should always be cooked to 160°F, while steaks can be cooked to 145°F. Lamb cooking temperatures are the same as beef.

Pork requires a bit more time on the grill. Roasts including Boston butt, crown, loin, and legs should reach a minimum cooking temperature of 160°F for medium and 170°F for well-done.

All poultry, regardless of the cut, should reach at least 165°F on a thermometer.

For a more detailed outline of recommended cooking times, visit datcp.wi.gov and search “meat cooking times.”

Source: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Grill The Meat, Not Yourself

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 18,000 Americans were injured in grilling accidents in 2009 – the latest year national statistics are available.

Propane gas is highly flammable. In recent years, the federal government has improved the design of propane tanks, reducing the risk of gas leaks. Still, consumers need to do their part when using a gas grill:

• Check grill hoses for cracking, holes, and leaks.
• Always keep gas containers upright.
• Never store a spare container near your grill or indoors.
• Never keep flammable liquids – like gas – near your grill.
• If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call 911.
• Don’t move a grill with a gas leak.

Never use a grill inside. That includes a garage, porch, or camper. In addition to fire hazards, charcoal grills emit a potentially deadly gas – carbon monoxide (CO). Charcoal gives off CO when it is burned. The colorless, odorless gas can build up to toxic levels in enclosed areas.

Nationwide, approximately 20 people die each year from CO fumes produced by charcoal grills used inside.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection offers these general grill safety tips for an enjoyable outdoor summer celebration:

• Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house or other buildings.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
• Use cooking utensils that keep you a safe distance from the fire.
• Never leave a burning grill unattended.
• Keep your grill clean.