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Keep safety in mind at the grill

Grilling often is thought of as male territory. While more men than women control the grilling tongs, the tradition is changing. According to a national survey, about one-third of women are "manning" the grill.

Grilling often is thought of as male territory. While more men than women control the grilling tongs, the tradition is changing. According to a national survey, about one-third of women are "manning" the grill.

Men, guard the TV remote control. That may be the final frontier.

Grilling is growing in popularity according to a Weber GrillWatch survey. People grill for many reasons but they're most likely to cite "flavor" as their top reason. Hamburgers, steak, chicken and hot dogs top the list as the most popular grilled foods.

Men are twice as likely as women to say grilling is "fun." Interestingly, women are twice as likely as men to like grilling because there are no pots or pans to clean up afterward.

Gee, I wonder what that means.


Nearly eight out of 10 households now have a barbecue grill of some kind, and many people are grilling throughout the year thanks to indoor grills. Gas grills are the top sellers followed by charcoal grills.

Grills range in price from the $25 "I have my first apartment!" models to the over $10,000 "I have an outdoor living area!" models.

Are you hungry yet? Before firing up the grill, consider these safety precautions.

- Check the gas lines and valves on gas grills to make sure there are no cracks, holes or blockages. If you suspect a gas leak, don't use the grill until the problem is fixed. Find someone with the expertise to do the checks.

- Store liquid petroleum tanks in a secure, upright position. Don't store extra full containers under grill. Follow the current tank expiration date recommendations.

- Don't operate gas or charcoal grills in enclosed areas such as garages, campers or tents. Deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up. If it's too rainy outside to grill, choose another menu.

- Keep the grill on level ground at least 10 feet away from a building, shrubs or anything that could catch fire.

- Be sure an adult is supervising the grill. Keep children and pets away from hot grills.


More than just flavor

Grilled food is flavorful, but is it healthy?

Health experts have expressed concern about the formation of compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) when higher-fat meats, poultry and fish are grilled over high heat. These compounds are linked to tumor formation in animals, but the evidence is a less clear in humans.

To reduce formation of these compounds, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends offers these tips:

- Choose lower-fat meat and trim visible fat. Marinate meat in an oil-free marinade. Just 10 minutes in a marinade can reduce HCA formation.

- Grill at lower temperatures and away from direct flames.

- To avoid flare-ups, use tongs or a spatula, instead of a fork, to turn foods.

- Flip burgers frequently to reduce HCA formation.


- Scrape off the charred or burned parts of grilled food.

Good enough to eat

Who controls the grill in your house? Could your "sweetie" make you sick with his or her grilling practices? Check them out with these questions. "Yes" is the right answer.

- Do you use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature of cooked food? Checking color doesn't do the trick. Cook to these USDA-recommended internal temperatures:

Burgers and pork, 160 degrees

Chicken or turkey breasts, 170 degrees

Whole poultry, 180 degrees

Steaks and roasts (medium rare), 145 degrees.


- Do you transfer cooked food to a clean plate or tray when it comes off the grill? Many grilling enthusiasts mistakenly reuse the plate that held the raw meat. Cross- contamination is a leading cause of foodborne illness.

- Do you keep "hot" food hot after cooking? Keep cooked food at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Do you quickly chill leftover food in shallow pans? OK, your food is so good, there are no leftovers.

For more information about food and nutrition, visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site: www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/food.htm Julie Garden-Robinson is an extension specialist and associate professor in the NDSU Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. E-mail her at jgardenr@ndsuext.nodak.edu

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