Grill Safety

Jun 13 - mkamplain
Our County
D. Gary Davis
County Mayor


The beginning of summer means many things to many people, but one "mainstay” of summertime activities usually revolves around fellowship and meals that may have all, or just a component or two, being prepared on a grill. The desire for a meal cooked over an open flame probably goes back multiple generations and is deeply ingrained in our surrounding region and culture. Sonya, and my entire family, will be very relieved that I am not going to suggest any recipes or culinary skills, but I have recently read of a few safety tips that may be beneficial to us all.

There is much debate as to the "proper” way to grill, as in charcoal, propane, natural gas, or even a process usually know as smoking. I will leave the debate as to the best to others, but please remember that ALL include one requirement, a fire. Please always have access to a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency need and follow all safety recommendations to starting your grill’s fire as well. Place your grill well away from your home and keep it away from under tree branches or your home’s eaves as well as remembering to check for any flammable material, such as dry leaves or debris that may be underneath your favorite grill location.

Food safety is another concern that we all need to recognize and use precautions. Many people use a grill brush to help properly clean the grill surface after each use. While this is a very good practice please be advised that it may also have a surprising downside. An estimated 1,700 Americans went to an emergency room between 2002 and 2014 (with 1 in 4 requiring admission to the hospital for further treatment or surgery) after having ingested wire bristles in grilled food according to a study published in the 2016 journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Bacteria are present everywhere and without constant awareness of food temperature a beautiful meal may migrate from dream status to a nightmare. I will finish with a new safety discovery that I was recently made aware of, aluminum foil. Honestly, many of us cook with aluminum foil without really giving it a second thought, even though in the back of our minds we probably vaguely remember hearing somewhere that it is not the wisest thing to do. Still, we wrap those baked potatoes, grill our fish and line pans with foil on a regular basis.

According to a 2012 study, aluminum can leach from the foil into our food. This is particularly common for spicy and acidic food and is troubling when one considers the food that we regularly grill in the summer that are drenched in spicy, vinegary marinades. There are also studies that correlate excessive aluminum intake with many health concerns, including the high concentrations of aluminum that have been detected in brain tissues of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. If you simply must use aluminum, a "best practices” approach is to make sure that your food item does not come into direct contact with the aluminum foil, by lining the foil with a parchment type product first to help reduce this latest discovered risk to health.

Those who know me best, know that I am not one to become alarmed easily, nor do I want to cause an irrational concern of a "fear of everything”. I also find it important to do what is possible to limit the advancement of Murphy’s Law, that states that "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” by doing our part to promote safety and also in being prepared for the unexpected. I hope that these few ideas will help us all enjoy our time with family and friends and to hopefully limit the possible negative concerns that may occur. My desire is that these ideas will also allow even more people who call Bradley County, and our region, home to be able to enjoy our great outdoor summer activities and nature that we have been blessed with, while also individually noticing that Bradley County truly is Tennessee at its best!

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