Safer Grilling Tips
Grill veggies and fruit instead of meat. Beef, pork, chicken, or fish pose the biggest risk of producing cancer causing compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines). Try healthy barbecue choices such as veggie burgers, pizza, vegetables on skewers or wrapped in foil. Grilled fruit makes a sweet, healthy dessert.
Marinating meats before grilling may reduce a lot of the HCAs.
Trim the fat. Choose lean, well-trimmed meats to grill; they have less fat to drip into the flames. Remove the skin from poultry and avoid high-fat meats such as ribs or sausage.
Pre-cook meats, fish, and poultry in the oven or microwave, then grill for a short time to give flavor.
Keep meat portions small so they won’t have to be on the grill very long. Skewered kebobs cook the fastest.
Fix the drips. Avoid letting juice drip into the flames or coals, which causes smoke and flare-ups. Use tongs or a spatula to turn foods, instead of poking meat with a fork. Covering the grill with aluminum foil with holes poked in it, not placing the meat directly over the coals, and keeping a spray bottle of water on hand (to control flame flare-ups) are other ways to reduce drips.
Flip frequently. Recent research has found that cooking hamburger patties at a lower temperature and turning them over often speeds up the cooking process, lessens HCAs forming, and is just as effective in killing bacteria.
Keep flames from touching food directly. Remove all the charred, black, or burnt parts of the food before eating.
Source: UI Cancer Information Services
Last Reviewed: May 2011
Adapted from The Facts About Grilling; American Institute for Cancer Research