Texas Living

The Texas Cookout Safety Guide

By Peter Simek 6.6.22

Texans can cook outdoors year-round in most parts of the Lone Star State. But that means, by summer, our grills have been working overtime at the service of delivering deliciousness to our family and friends. That can lead to some safety concerns. Before your next backyard pool party or park side barbecue, take some time to review our cookout safety tips to ensure your next grilling event goes off without a hitch.

Cleaning Safety

Summer cookout safety begins with making sure your outdoor kitchen meets the same sanitary expectations of your indoor kitchen. Sanitation starts with proper preparation. Make sure you have a clutter-free and clean working surface for all your cooking utensils and uncooked foods before you place them on the grill. It is important to clean your grill after every use. Clean by heating the grill for 15 minutes and then scraping off any caramelized food. Use a paper towel and canola oil to season the grill.

Prep Safety

Before you start cooking, wash your hands and utensils, and rinse any fruits and vegetables. It is also important to avoid potential cross-contamination. Uncooked meat, poultry, and seafood can harbor bacteria that can spread to utensils, prep surfaces, hands, and dishware. Be careful when handling any uncooked food and be sure to wash and rinse everything thoroughly.

Cooking Safety

There is nothing quite like a charred burger straight off the grill. But when cooking over natural heat that can fluctuate in temperature, there is greater risk for undercooking your food. To avoid any upset stomachs—or worse—make sure you cook food to these temperatures:

  • 145 F for whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb
  • 145 F for fish
  • 160 F for ground beef
  • 165 F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey

Fire Safety

It’s not only cooking temperatures that you need to watch when at the grill. A hot grill can be dangerous, especially if it isn’t properly maintained and managed. When grilling, keep these safety cues in mind:

  • Keep a fire extinguisher near the grill. A ready hose or water is not sufficient in the event of a grease fire. Make sure everyone at your gathering knows where to find the extinguisher.
  • Keep your grill station tidy. Don’t leave flammable items close to the grill.
  • Maintain your grill. A dirty grill or interior can ignite. Holes or cracks risk flames or hot coals escaping and igniting flammable materials nearby.
  • Keep away from the house. This includes exterior structures such as sheds, decks, and fences. Make sure your grill is at least 10 feet from any structures or flammable objects.

Brush up on more fire safety with our guides to fire hazards in your home, fire extinguishers, and creating a family emergency plan.

© 2022 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance