Barbecue food safety

This article on barbecue food safety is an essential read in the run up to our BBQ season.

BBQ Recipes

A friend recently returned from a trip abroad with a serious case of food poisoning and I was reminded of reading an article on the NHS website, which had some useful tips for cooking safely when you’re using your BBQ. Food poisoning cases double over the summer, so remember these simple steps to help keep food safe.

Food poisoning is usually mild, and most people get better within a week. But sometimes it can be more severe, even deadly, so it’s important to take the risks seriously. Children, older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.

When cooking on the barbecue, the two main risk factors are:
– undercooked meat
– spreading germs from raw meat on to food that’s ready to eat

This is because raw or undercooked meat can contain germs that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella, e.coli and campylobacter. However, these germs will only be killed by cooking meat until it is steaming hot throughout.

Germs from raw meat can easily move on to your hands and then on to anything else you touch, such as food that is cooked and ready to eat. It is therefore important to wash your hands after handling raw meat.

Cooking meat on a barbecue

Burning-Charcoal

When you’re cooking most types of meat on a barbecue, such as poultry (chicken and turkey, for example), pork, burgers or sausages, make sure:
– the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means they’re hot enough
– frozen meat is properly thawed before you cook it

Most problems occur when you are grilling, so turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly. Cooking on a rotisserie bbq does this automatically, so you are less likely to encounter a problem. If you have a thermometer handy, put it into the thickest part of the meat. The magic number is 170 degrees F (75 degrees C). Alternatively you can check to see the colour of the juices that drip from the food. You are looking for clear juices. Once they are visible the food can come off the BBQ. But remember to rest joints for 20 minutes before carving as they will still be cooking.

If you are cooking with kebabs, always take one piece of meat off and cut it in half to check that it is cooked through before serving.

Don’t assume that because meat is charred on the outside that it will be cooked properly on the inside.

Some meat, such as steaks and joints of beef or lamb, can be served rare as long as the outside has been properly cooked. On your rotisserie, cook the meat for 10 to 15 minutes at low height (close to the coals), which will cook the outside and seal in all those tasty juices. It will kill any bacteria that might be on the outside of the meat. However, food made from any type of minced meat, such as pork sausages and beef burgers, must be cooked thoroughly all the way through.

Preparing Barbecue Food

BBQ Chicken Preparation

Germs from raw meat can move easily on to your hands and then on to anything else you touch, including food that is cooked and ready to eat. This is called cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination can happen if raw meat touches anything – including plates, cutlery, tongs and chopping boards – that then comes into contact with other food.

Some easy steps to help prevent cross-contamination are:
– always wash your hands after touching raw meat
– use separate utensils (plates, tongs, containers) for cooked and raw meat
– never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has had raw meat on it
– keep raw meat in a sealed container away from foods that are ready to eat, such as salads and buns
– never wash raw chicken or other poultry before cooking as this increases the risk of spreading bacteria around the kitchen
– don’t put raw meat next to cooked or partly cooked meat on the barbecue
– don’t put sauce or marinade on cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat

Keeping Barbecue Food Cool

It’s also important to keep some foods cool to prevent food poisoning germs multiplying.

Make sure you keep the following foods cool:
– salads
– dips
– milk, cream, yoghurt
– desserts and cream cakes
– sandwiches
– ham and other cooked meats
– cooked rice, including rice salads

Don’t leave food out of the fridge for more than a couple of hours, and don’t leave food in the sun.

Most of this will sound like common sense – and it is. BUT, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what we should be doing.

The source of information for this article came from the NHS website. For more information, click this link: http://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx

If you need any help or assistance with your BBQ cooking, please call us on 01494 511368