Tips for grilling can keep you safe this summer

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With summer settling in, and July 4th just around the corner, grilling out will be more popular then ever. But there's a lot more to it than just throwing some hamburgers and hot dogs over the fire.

A safe cookout begins long before firing up the grill, starting with the meat at the grocery store.

You want to choose cuts of meat that aren't too thick because when you cook food, the outside will get charred and the inside won't cook. 

Cooks should also start with a clean grill. A wire brush and a paper towel moistened in salt water, should remove most residue.

And some longtime grillers may think they can wing it, but another purchase is key to keeping healthy. Part of any healthy griller's tool kit should be a good meat thermometer, because meat can carry bacteria, and if it's not thoroughly cooked that bacteria can make you, your family and your guests sick.  Steak and fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground beef and pork, 160 degrees; and chicken, 165 degrees.

Also avoid using the same plate for the raw meat as your serving plate.  That just defeats the whole purpose of cooking your meat properly, because the bacteria from the raw meat juices can get on to the food and then make you sick.

Serve those hot foods right off of the grill, and remember cold dishes can spoil easily when left in the summer sun. 

The Virginia Department of Health also does a great job of offering tips to make your next cookout a safe one.

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