Make a Meat Thermometer Part of Your Grilling Routine

Prairie Gleanings

Using a meat thermometer takes the anxiety out of grilling. I speak from experience.

Published on: June 3, 2011
I realized I’d moved fully into adulthood when I hosted our first family barbecue. For some reason, feeding your grandparents, parents and multiple aunts, uncles and cousins conveys a sense of maturity that surpasses even a college degree or first job.

In the days leading up to the big event, my wife and I brainstormed what we were going to prepare for everyone. Since it was a Labor Day event, grilling was a no-brainer. Still being a young couple, we decided on a cheap, yet easy, meal of hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken breasts (for the vegetarians, as her Italian grandpa would say).

The day before the big event, I started getting nervous. The prospect of serving undercooked food and the resulting food poisoning was enough to make me a bit anxious. In a stroke of genius, I purchased a meat thermometer.

Today, I chatted with Steve Larsen, director of pork safety with the National Pork Board. We discussed the lowering of the recommended cooking temperature of pork from 160 degrees F to 145 degrees F.

As we discussed grilling pork, I mentioned I’m an avid meat thermometer user. With a title like director of pork safety, I wasn’t surprised when he admitted he keeps a thermometer handy around the grill.

As part of the push for lower cooking temperatures, Larsen said the National Pork Board is recommending meat thermometer use. Though the longtime fear of trichinosis has somewhat subsided, it’s still important to cook pork past 142 degrees F, which is exactly what it takes to kill the trichinosis roundworm.

I don’t like overcooked pork, but I sure don’t want trichinosis. It seems like the meat thermometer is the perfect grilling accessory to meat safety and taste expectations.

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