Barbecue safetyEveryone loves eating outside during the summer but it can sometimes be difficult to keep food safe outdoors.
When barbecuing the biggest risk of food poisoning is from raw and undercooked meat. Bugs such as E.coli O157, salmonella and campylobacter can cause serious illness. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of food poisoning and keep food safe while barbecuing.
Temperature controlOnce food leaves the coolness of a fridge or freezer, it immediately becomes vulnerable to germs which can lead to food poisoning. Keep food as cold as possible, for as long as possible. You can do this by:
- Using a cool bag or box with lots of ice packs
- Keeping food in the fridge until the very last minute
- Storing your cool box or bag in the coolest part of the car, out of direct sunlight, usually in the boot
- Set your cool box or bag out of the sun and keep it closed as much as possible.
Raw meatKeep raw meat away from ready-to-eat food (prevent cross contamination). If raw meat touches or drips onto food that is already cooked or ready to eat, food poisoning bacteria can get onto that food.
Bacteria can also transfer onto food from your hands, chopping board, knife or tongs. You can prevent cross contamination by doing the following things:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat
- Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat
- Handle food as little as possible, use tongs instead
- Don't leave utensils or plates on the ground
- Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat
- Keep raw meat in a sealed container away from ready-to-eat foods, such as burger buns and salads
- 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
- Pack raw meat in sealed containers and place at the bottom of your cool box so that their juices can't leak out and drip onto other foods.
Cooking barbecued food properlyIf you're barbecuing for lots of people, you could cook meat indoors and finish it off on the barbecue for added flavour. You must always make sure you cook chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs until they're piping hot all the way through, none of the meat is pink and any juices run clear.
- Wait until the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook
- Make sure frozen food is properly thawed before you cook it
- Turn the food regularly, and move it around the barbecue, to cook it evenly
- Check that the centre of the food is piping hot all the way through, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat left
- Don't assume that if meat is charred on the outside that it will be cooked properly on the inside
- Don't reheat food more than once.
Water supplySafe, clean water is important when eating outdoors. This covers drinking water as well as water used for prepare and cook food, clean utensils and wash your hands.
- Only drink bottled water or tap water which you know is safe
- Do not drink water from rivers or lakes as they could be contaminated.
Personal hygieneKeeping your hands clean is one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of germs and stop food poisoning from developing.
- Wash your hands before eating, after you have used the toilet and after touching raw meat or animals
- Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly
- Bring hand wipes or gels with you
- Bring soap with you to wash your hands and dry them afterwards.
- Try to buy locally sourced food, if possible. This is much better for the environment.
- Buy loose fruit and veg and try to buy meat and salads with as little packaging as possible.
- Work out who's coming and only buy what you need.
- Disposable plates, cups and cutlery create unnecessary waste.
- Try to reuse your leftovers for tomorrow's lunch. If you can't use up the leftovers, use your food recycling service (available to people with brown bins or those on the food waste trials).
- If you have a black kerbside recycling box, put your empty glass bottles and cans in it. If you have a blue recycling bin, take your glass bottles to your nearest recycling centre.