Master of the grill

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

One of my favorite all-American celebrations is almost upon us.  Father’s Day has always been special for me, since my birthday often falls on the same day, or at least the same weekend.  Growing up, I recall sharing my special day with my dad; and even though he is no longer with us, the day will still be memorable. The focus has shifted to watching our girls honor their dad.  As the Man of the Day, my husband enjoys nothing better than mastering the barbecue grill for our guests!

For those who were invited out to celebrate Memorial Day’s barbecue and formal initiation as the rite of passage into summer, Father’s Day may be the first time your own backyard grill will be put to the test.  While outdoor entertaining has risen to a favorite national pastime, a little bit of caution can go a long way in preventing injury and illness.  According to estimates from the United States Fire Administration, outside cooking grills are responsible for over 6,000 fires, more than 170 injuries, and $35 million in property loss every year!  Since warm summer temperatures can cause food to spoil more quickly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind us that food-borne illnesses result in more than 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year throughout the country.

Armed with this information, there are a few easy steps that can be taken to ensure a fun, safe and healthy Father’s Day cookout:

  • Keep children and outdoor games away from the cooking area, and never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Light barbecues with a long match or mechanical lighter designed for this specific purpose. Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames.
  • Allow the barbecue to cool before attempting to clean it.
  • The cooking source is only part of the equation.  Safe handling and preparation of the food being served can easily be accomplished by following these tips:
  • Harmful bacteria usually grow in the “danger zone” between 40° and 140° F.  Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until you are ready to throw it on the grill. If you plan to use additional marinade as a sauce for basting, set a portion of it aside so it does not come into contact with the raw meat.
  • Use a separate plate or cutting board for raw and cooked foods. Bacteria in the juices of raw meat can easily cross-contaminate safely cooked food.
  • Use a food thermometer when grilling foods to ensure an internal temperature of 180 degrees for poultry, 160 degrees for burgers, and 165 degrees for hot dogs.
  • Refrigerate any hot or cold leftovers promptly. Discard any food that has been left out for more than two hours after cooking, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F.


I’m hoping for a sunny Sunday so that my husband can show off his outdoor culinary skills. Wishing all of the dads out there a wonderful, safe and healthy family celebration!