Barbequing is one of America’s favorite pastimes, especially during Fourth of July weekend. However, it’s hard to believe that this enjoyable and easy meal option can cause food poisoning and even cancer! ChicagoHealers.com Dr. Martha Howard M.D. provides the following tips for staying safe during summer grilling:

Safety Hazards:

· An April 2006 presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research showed that when PhIP, a barbecue/char chemical, was added to rats’ food, they developed cancerous changes in their intestines, spleens and prostates within four weeks.

· HCAs, heterocyclic amines, are also produced when meat is charred. This compound can increase the risk of breast, stomach, colon, and prostate cancer.

· PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are produced by smoking fat from chicken, fish or meat and can damage lung, liver, skin and kidney tissue.

Tips for Safe Barbequing:

Clean the grill: get rid of the old fats left over from previous meals.

Avoid petroleum starters for charcoal: If you use charcoal, use a wood starter and stack your charcoal up in a 2 pound metal can with the ends cut off. Lift off the can with tongs and spread out the coals when they are well started.

Proper timing: Avoid a time gap between opening the valve and starting the grill.

Wash your hands: Keep your hands clean and use separate plates and cutting boards for raw and cooked meats. Be sure to wash hands again before putting on long, heat-proof barbecue gloves.

Trim meat: Trim most of the fat from meat; less fat means fewer PAHs.

Use marinades: This protects the meat from charring. Put the marinade on, and refrigerate until use. Don’t let meat sit out.

Pre-cooking: Use pre-cooking prior to grilling, especially for items like raw brats. Avoid taking burgers, chicken or other meats directly from the freezer to the grill.

Cutting techniques: Cut meat and chicken into smaller pieces so they cook through.

Flipping: Turn down the fire, and turn your burgers, steaks, chops, or chicken often, so they cook through, and come out golden brown.

Meat thermometer: If you are cooking a thicker portion of meat or chicken, use a meat thermometer.

Chicken: 165 degrees

Hamburger: 160 degrees

Pork: 150 degrees

Hot dogs: 140 degrees

Steak: 145 degrees for medium rare and 160 degrees for medium.

Cleaning up: At the end of the barbecue, be sure to put out your charcoal completely, and if you are using propane, be sure the valve is turned off.

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Chicago Healers (www.chicagohealers.com) is the nation’s pioneer prescreened integrative health care network, offering a comprehensive understanding of each practitioner’s services, approach, and philosophy. Their holistic health experts teach and advocate natural and empowered health and life choices through their practices, the media, educational events, and their website. With close to 200 practitioners and over 300 treatment services, Chicago Healers has provided nearly 400 free educational events for Chicagoans and has been featured in 300+ TV news programs and print publications. For more information, visit www.chicagohealers.com.