BBQ and Food Safety Tips From Acorn Health & Safety
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a barbecue with family and friends, but you need to ensure that food is stored and cooked safely. Just because you’re cooking outdoors, don’t let your good habits in the kitchen go up in smoke when you light the barbecue – you want those who have enjoyed your hospitality to go home with memories of a good time, not a tummy bug to remember you by.
Keep cool: Warm weather and outdoor cooking can produce the right conditions for the bacteria which cause food poisoning, food is away from your fridge for a longer period of time when cooking and eating outdoors which can lead to germs multiplying quickly.
Keep perishable foods like salads, coleslaw and quiche in your fridge until you need them.
Before you start:
- Make sure frozen foods are fully thawed (preferably in the fridge on the bottom shelf; which may take overnight) before you start cooking them.
- Keep foods you plan to cook properly chilled in the fridge or a cool box until needed.
- Light your barbecue well in advance – for charcoal barbecues, the flames should have died down before you start cooking.
Avoiding cross-contamination: Cross-contamination is most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, utensils or surfaces.
- Wash your hands before and after handling food.
- Remember to keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods like salads.
- Always use separate utensils for handling raw and cooked meat when cooking.
- Never put cooked food on a dish that has been used for raw meat or poultry (unless it’s been thoroughly washed in between)
- Keep food covered whenever possible
Cook thoroughly: The big issue when barbecuing is making sure the food has been cooked thoroughly all the way through, cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.
This is particularly important when cooking poultry, pork, minced and skewered meats, such as burgers, sausages and kebabs on the barbecue, charred on the outside doesn’t always mean cooked on the inside.
Remember that a burger is not like a steak. Burgers should always be served well done, they should not be served rare or pink. This is because when meat is minced to produce burgers, any harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat spread throughout the burger.
Unless the burger is cooked right through, these bacteria can remain alive on the inside. This applies equally to all meat that is minced, including good quality or expensive meat.
Before serving meat that you have cooked on the barbecue, always check that:
- The meat is steaming hot throughout
- There is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part
- Meat juices run clear
Consider cooking all chicken and pork in the oven first, then giving it a final finish on your barbecue.
Follow the above tips and your friends and family will still experience that special barbecue char-grilled taste but not suffer the consequences of food poisoning.
Alternatively, we offer various Food Safety courses including the basic Food Safety Awareness course which is aimed at anyone who requires induction training before starting to work with food, staff who are low-risk food handlers, and those who wish to update their food safety knowledge. We also offer E-Learning Food Safety Awareness at Levels 1 & 2.
Nigel Braybrooke, Consultant and Lead Food Safety Advisor