Whether as children, hosts or as guests, having afternoon barbecues is one of the best memories we'll always have. A lot of families make this a weekend habit to bond together and to reach out to other families and bond with them as well. Pictures are taken to the tune of smiles and laughter with, of course, the smell of barbecued meat permeating the air and adding character to the memories shaped on each of these fine Smokey afternoons. All of us savor the relationships that are strengthened through endless chats over good food and drinks. However, do we make ourselves healthier with this barbecue habit? Let's find out.

One thing we should never overlook is the condition of the meat that we grill. We can acquire various illnesses when we do not handle our raw meat well. Let's begin form the time we thaw it. It must be thawed well or it may never be cooked enough to be safe for our consumption. When you soak the meat directly in the water, it can take away some of its flavors though, so it's a good idea to keep it sealed in its package. What you can do is to take it from the freezer to the refrigerator a few hours before the party.

You'll want to make sure your cooking area is clean first when the meat is ready for the grill. Therefore, it should be dry and free from raw meat juices. One thing you don't want to take for granted is you use of platters and utensils. Use separate ones for raw meat and those used for cooked meat. Even the marinade has to be brought to a boil before it can be added onto the cooked meat.

Internal temperature of the meat should also be looked into in order to ensure that all harmful bacteria are destroyed before it is consumed. Use a food thermometer to be certain on this one. There are specific internal temperatures that must be achieved for different types of meat. Take chicken breasts for instance, it must reach about 170°F while beef patties and all cuts of pork should be around 160°F.

In the US alone, approximately 76 million people get ill because of harmful bacteria that are left to thrive in undercooked meat. Some people may get the same diseases not from eating undercooked food but from ingesting the same bacteria that are left on utensils used for handling the meat prior to cooking. Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea along with fever, chills and headache are only some of the most commonly reported symptoms of illnesses associated with undercooked meat consumption.

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