food poisoning, gastrointestinal infections

Outdoor Grill May Have More Germs Than A Toilet Seat

Happy Memorial Weekend!

Are you a firm believer in leaving the charred remnants on the grill-grate in hopes it will enhance the flavor of your next flame-licked burger or steak? If so, perhaps you should reconsider seasoning the grate and put the grill through a thorough wash.

UK researchers state the average outdoor grilling surface is a breeding ground for over twice the amount of germs found on a toilet seat. Eew. The barbecue may not have visible signs of contamination, but can be crawling with E. coli, salmonella, and listeria.

A test for bacteria identified 1.7 million microbes per 100 square centimeters of an average grill’s surface, 124 percent more than the surface of a toilet seat.

Dr. Lisa Ackerley, PhD, one of the leading experts on food safety in the UK, warns that these microorganisms are easily transferred to burgers, steaks, and hotdogs, and can provoke severe gastrointestinal infections – causing diarrhea, nausea, and fever, all symptoms of food poisoning.

Ackerley suggested that in order to limit exposure to potentially harmful pathogens one should regularly disinfect garden furniture, decking, and outdoor cooking surfaces – especially prior to use.

A survey, conducted by Jeyes (cleaning products), asked 1,400 participants about their personal hygiene and household cleanliness – including questions regarding their outdoor grill. Only 36 percent of respondents said they cleaned their barbecue more than two times a year.

There are several ways to limit germs on a grill. First, allow the pre-cleaned metal surface to heat up before placing food on the grill. Prolonged exposure to the fire should burn away most of the bacteria.

Try applying a layer of cooking oil – not in the direction of the flame – to prevent food from sticking and easing cleanup. Empty leftover charcoal from the grill, as the remaining ashes can collect moisture – allowing bacteria and mold to breed. Cover the grill when not in use – limiting environmental exposure to substances like rainwater and bird excrement.

[Image via Shutterstock]