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Tips For Safer And Healthier Grilling This Memorial Day

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The first holiday weekend of the summer is just a few days away.

And if you're like many of us, you're getting ready for your first cookout of the summer. But grilling can also carry some health risks.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez tells us how to stay safe.

Somehow, food on a grill just tastes better. But it's easy to end up with food poisoning from contaminated food if you're not careful. Grills can also come with some very unexpected hazards.

Mike DeStefan says he experienced pain so bad at work one Monday that he was doubling over. The intense pain wasn't from food poisoning, but from a brass bristle of a brush he was using to clean his grill. The bristle got stuck to the grill and then was later cooked into his food that he ate.

DeStefan highly recommends that you check your grill brush often or use a stone to clean it.

But that isn't the only risk.

"There are bacteria on every piece of raw meat and raw poultry that we have," Dr. Susan Rehm of Cleveland Clinic said. "When we touch something, we get bacteria on our hands and we transmit with our hands to other surfaces."

The problem, she says, is cross-contamination -- when juices from uncooked foods come into contact with safely cooked foods, or other uncooked foods.

The CDC uses a simple slogan to remind us all how to safely grill on Memorial Day, or any day. "Separate, don't contaminate."

So CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez headed to the Institute of Culinary Education to see Chef Chad Pagano for a lesson in grilling safety.

Chef Pagano explained that anything that touches raw meat -- like hands, tongs, knives, forks -- can't touch any other food. Each food should have it's own plate. If you carry raw meat or poultry to the grill on a plate, immediately wash it or get a new plate.

Hand washing after handling raw meat is also key.

Gas grills themselves can be risky, especially when you're firing it up for the first time this season. Chef Pagano suggests taking out the grill, check the fittings, make sure the gas flows and even .. watch out for spiders.

When you finally have the grill up and running at your first cookout, there are some other things to be cautious about.

Wearing spray-on sunscreen? Do not go near the grill until it's thoroughly dry. The alcohol in the sunscreen can catch fire.

It happened to Brett Sigworth, who suffered second degree burns when his sunscreen ignited.

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