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Publication #FAR8717

Grilling Food Safely1

Amy Simonne and Donna Davis2

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Millions of Americans enjoy outdoor gatherings and picnics with their friends and families, and for many the gatherings would not be complete without various tasty grilled meats. However, reports in recent years have raised concerns of health risks that come with grilling, especially the risk of cancer. Is eating grilled meats putting your family members at risk?

According to research, grilling, frying, and broiling muscle foods—such as red meats, poultry, and fish—can lead to the formation of cancer-causing compounds. These compounds have been shown to cause tumors in animals and possibly increase the risk of various cancers in humans (American Institute for Cancer Research, 2001). This doesn't mean we need to stop eating grilled meats altogether, but here are some tips that consumers can use to reduce their risk.

Before you start, clean the grill to remove charred food debris left over from previous events. If starter fluid is used on charcoal grills, let it burn off before putting the food on the grill. Choose lean cuts of meat for grilling to reduce fat dripping. Marinating meats using oil-free marinade can reduce a significant amount of cancer-producing chemicals during grilling. Limit the amount of time meat is on the grill by precooking the meats or keeping portions small. Avoid letting juices drip into the flames or coals by using utensils that do not pierce the meats. Flip the meat frequently. And to further protect your family during those outdoor barbeques, be sure to follow other food safety and dietary guidelines (American Institute for Cancer Research, 2001).

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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American Institute for Cancer Research. [2011]. Cancer Experts Offer Four Tips for Healthy Grilling. Retrieved [September 2, 2011], from [16 August 2012].



This document is FAR8717, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 430. Published February 2009. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amy Simonne, associate professor, and Donna Davis, senior producer, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.