Monthly Health Message:

Summer Safe Grilling

July 2016

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Grilling is a great way to cook healthy food. Just make sure that a food thermometer is used so you are guaranteed that the food will be cooked to the proper temperature.

You cannot determine if food is fully cooked just by looking at it. The only way to make sure food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature is to use a food thermometer and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

The best types of food thermometers for grilling include:

  • Digital Instant-Read Thermometer which reads the temperature in ten seconds
  • Make sure to place it at least ½ inch deep into the food
  • It allows measuring internal temperature in thick and thin foods
  • Thermometer-Fork Combination reads in 2-10 seconds
  • Place at least 1/4 inch deep in the thickest part of the food making sure the sensor in the tine of the fork is fully inserted into the food
  • This type can be used in most foods and is convenient for grilling

Here are some tips for using a food thermometer:
  • The two types of food thermometers are designed to let you know cooking temperatures quickly and are not to be left in the food like thermometers for roasting meats.
  • For safety and to prevent overcooking, check the internal temperature of the food being grilled in several places toward the end of the cooking time, before the food is expected to be finished cooking.
  • Make sure the food thermometer is placed in the thickest part of the food and it should not be touching bone, fat or gristle. Check the temperatures in several places to make sure the food is evenly heated.
  • Clean your food thermometer with hot water and soap detergent before and after each use.
Here are the safe minimum internal temperatures for meat and poultry:
    160º F for ground beef
    165º F for poultry including ground chicken or turkey
    145º F plus 3 minutes of standing time for beef, veal, lamb, steaks and roasts

Remember, taking these small steps when grilling will help you and your family to be safe grill masters. For more information on using food thermometers and grilling, see Grill Master at the Partnership for Food Safety Education.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences