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Go-To Grilling Tips to Prevent Poisoning

Sizzling Meat on the Grill

Grilling is often part of our warm weather plans! By following these grilling safety tips, you can enjoy your picnics, BBQs, and camping trips without a poisoning ruining your activities. 

Food Safety
  • Soap and water are the best options for cleaning your hands, but if none are around, use hand sanitizer before and after you handle food.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats have reached a safe internal temperature. You cannot tell just by looking at the color of meat and poultry. See this chart for safe temperatures.
  • When taking cooked food off the grill, do not put it back on the same plate that held raw food.
  • The danger zone for bacteria to grow is between 40° and 140° degrees Fahrenheit:
    • Keep cold foods cold. Bring plenty of ice or freezer packs when you are away from home. Keep coolers out of the direct sun.
    • Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours before refrigerating. If the temperature outside is 90° F or higher, refrigerate perishable food within one hour. 
Metal Brush Risk
  • Cleaning your grill using a wire brush may cause loose bristles to become stuck to the grates. The next time you use the grill, these loose bristles can become stuck on your food and are hard to see. If swallowed, wire bristles can injure your mouth, throat, stomach and intestines if they become stuck or tear tissue. 
  • Consider using an option other than a wire brush to clean the grill such as stone cleaning blocks, wooden scrapers, nylon-fiber brushes, solid metal scrapers, or even a piece of scrunched-up tin foil. 
  • If you choose to use a wire brush, discard any loose wire bristles and check the grill grates very carefully for bristles before placing food on them.
Lighter Fluid Danger
  • Lighter fluid used to ignite charcoal in your grill can be easily breathed into the lungs if swallowed. This can be very dangerous and in the worst cases may cause pneumonia and even death.
  • Keep lighter fluid up and away from children at all times. Don't put the product down and turn your back. It takes only a second for a child to grab the bottle and take a drink. 
  • Re-close the child-resistant cap on the product every time and store in a locked cabinet when not using.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 
  • Never use your grill indoors, or in an enclosed space such as a garage, shed or tent. This can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and can be deadly.
  • You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide so install CO detectors in your home near sleeping areas to alert you if it is present. 

Call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions about these poison prevention grilling tips or if you need help with a poisoning.


  1. Federal Drug Administration
  2. Partnership for Food Safety Education
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  4. The Poison Post®  
  5. Baugh, T. P., Hadley, J. B., & Chang, C. W. D. (2016). Epidemiology of Wire-Bristle Grill Brush Injury in the United States, 2002-2014. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 154(4), 645–649.  https://

Author: Sherrie Pace, MS, MCHES®, Outreach Education Manager, Utah Poison Control Center