Last night I made chicken for a group of people on the grill. I used tongs to put the meat on the grill, flip, and move it around.

What would be a physical process I can follow to make sure I'm doing this in a food-safe way? I used a different set of tongs after putting the meat on and flipping once, but wasn't sure if there was an "algorithm" I could use to ensure food safety.

I suppose there are three types of grill actions I do:

  1. Initially putting raw meat onto grill
  2. The first flip
  3. Continuing to flip/rotate meat, move to hotter parts of grill, etc.

What is the food safest, how many tongs do I need, and what would the process look like? I was worried that every time I touched partially-cooked meat that I'd contaminate the tongs.

There are a few related questions, which talk about concepts, but not necessarily a step-by-step:

How can I ensure food safety if my cooking utensils have touched raw meat?

How do cooking utensils remain safe for use?

  • I just walk over to the sink and wash them until the meat is seared on all outer surfaces...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 4 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Ecnerwal that makes sense - in my case, I only have public parks as a grilling option, so I don't really have access to a sink.
    – poundifdef
    Commented May 4 at 22:47
  • 8
    I don’t know if it’s right, but I’ve been known to shove my tongs through the grill grating and letting the metal cook for a bit to hopefully sterilize them. I find that easier than trying to keep track of three sets of tongs and making sure they never touch each other (and the two plates/ trays, as you need one to bring the raw food to the grill, and a clean one to bring the cooked stuff back)
    – Joe
    Commented May 5 at 1:32
  • 1
    Would the hot outside of grilled food not kill any pathogens which might be on the tongs?
    – Michael
    Commented May 5 at 11:17
  • 1
    @Joe that also is very dependent on the material of your tongs. Less of an option w/ silicone tipped ones Commented May 5 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


Similar to one of the answers to a question you linked, I usually solve the problem by utilizing two sets of tongs. My process:

  1. Use tong (A) to transfer raw meat to the grill
  2. Use tong (A) to flip the meat
  3. Use tong (B) to remove the meat from the grill

I use tong (A) instead of (B) in step 2 on the premise that the meat is still heating up, so despite recontaminating it, by the time step 3 rolls around it should be safe again.

To do this, you do need 2 sets of tongs, as well as minimizing the number of times you futz with the meat while it’s on the grill, or you won’t give it time to kill of anything on the surface.

Another answer has the great suggestion of using differently-colored tongs to maintain mental separation of which set is which. I personally don’t do this because i just keep the “not-raw” set w/ all the cooked meat and the “raw” set w/ the raw meat, but i can definitely see that system helping for some.

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