7 top tips for BBQ Food Safety

Each year Local Authority Environmental Health Officers see a characteristic rise in the number of food poisoning cases through the summer period. During an investigation, there is often one common factor – the barbecue.

Warm weather is the ideal time to cook outside however, warm temperatures also make it easy for bacteria (germs) to multiply. Reducing the time that foods are in a warm environment and cooking foods thoroughly are crucial to ensuring food safety.

It is also important to keep foods either very hot or very cold.

Following these 7 tips in the order shown should help to minimise the length of time that foods are at room temperature and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Buying the food

  • Choose foods that are well within their use by dates
  • Select your refrigerated items near the end of your shopping to keep the temperature low.
  • Put raw meat in plastic bags. Avoid cross contamination
  • Put chilled foods in cool bags or boxes.
  • Don’t buy too much in one go.
  • Take food home as soon as possible.

Storing the food

  • Refrigerate chilled foods immediately.
  • Keep raw meats and ready to eat foods separate.
  • Store raw meats on lower shelves to prevent blood dripping onto ready to eat food.
  • Keep your fridge at or below 5 degrees centigrade.
  • Cover all foods.

Setting up the barbecue

  • Position it outside, away from fences, trees and neighbour’s property.
  • Ensure the site is level.
  • Light well in advance. Ensure the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface.
  • Use approved lighting fuel, not petrol.
  • Keep children and pets away.
  • Provide firefighting equipment e.g. garden hose or bucket of sand.

Preparing the food

  • Wash your hands before you start and in between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Prepare foods as late as possible and keep foods in fridge until required.
  • Defrost foods in fridge or microwave and ensure it is properly thawed before you cook it.
  • Use separate utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods or wash them in between, preferably with anti-bacterial soap.
  • Marinate foods in the fridge. Don’t put raw meat into a marinade if it is to be used for a sauce, rather reserve a portion specifically for the sauce.
  • Wash salads and vegetables well.

Cooking the food

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wait until the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook.
  • Turn the food regularly, and move it around the barbecue, to cook it evenly.
  • Check that the food is piping hot all the way through.
  • Make sure there isn’t any pink meat left in poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs, and that any juices run clear.
  • Keep raw meat away from other foods. It can contain food poisoning bugs, so if it touches food that has already been cooked or is ready to eat (such as salad and burger buns), the bugs can spread on to that food.
    Here’s how you can stop the bugs spreading:
    – Stop raw meat from touching or dripping onto other food.
    – Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
    – Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat.
    – Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat (unless it has been washed thoroughly).
    – Don’t put raw meat products next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue.
    – Don’t add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat.

Serving the food

  • Wash your hands.
  • Eat food as soon as it is cooked.
  • Do not leave food in the sunshine.

Clearing up

  • Cover and refrigerate left-overs within 1 hour otherwise throw away.
  • Dispose of refuse in covered bins to deter pests.
  • Check coals are cold before storage.
  • Never put hot ashes into the dustbin.
  • Store briquettes in a dry place.