Cooking food outdoors can increase the risk of food poisoning. It's harder to keep foods very hot or very cold and to keep everything clean. But with a little extra care barbecues can be safe as well as fun:
- be a clean cook
- control food temperatures
- keep bacteria at bay
- store food safely
Keep foods to be cooked away from foods which are ready to eat.
Keep perishable foods cold until it's time to cook or eat them.
Wash hands before touching food. Clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.
Undercooked burgers, sausages and poultry can be a serious health hazard. Take extra care to cook them throughout until the juices run clear.
Food safety checklist for barbecues
- Wash hands before touching food and after handling raw meat and poultry.
- Make sure all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces are spotlessly clean before use.
- Defrost frozen meats and poultry (in the fridge or microwave) fully before cooking, unless the cooking instructions state otherwise.
- Light the barbecue well in advance, make sure you use enough charcoal and wait until it is glowing red (with a powdery grey surface) before starting to cook.
- Wash salads and raw vegetables well to remove all traces of soil and any insects. Don't prepare these foods too far in advance.
- At all times, keep foods to be cooked away from foods which are ready to eat.
- If possible, keep meats, salads and other perishable foods in the fridge until just before you are ready to cook/eat them.
- Don't leave perishable foods out in the warm air. Once outdoors, perishable foods should be kept cold in a cool bag with ice packs until they are ready to cook/eat.
- If possible, pre-cook all poultry in the microwave or oven, then take them straight to the barbecue to finish off.
- Cook poultry, sausages, burgers and chopped or minced meats right through, until the juices run clear. Never eat these meats rare.
- During cooking, if food starts to burn on the outside, raise the grill height or reduce the heat of the charcoal (dampen coals slightly or partially close air vents).
- Keep raw and cooked meats apart. Don't handle cooked foods with utensils that have touched raw meats.
- Everyone should wash their hands before eating.
- Keep serving bowls covered to protect food from dust and insects.
- Eat food as soon as it's ready.
- Thoroughly clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.
- Throw away perishable food that has been left out at ambient air temperature for more than a couple of hours, and all food scraps and used paper plates, into a covered rubbish bin.
- Other left-overs should be stored in clean, covered containers in the fridge and eaten within 48 hours.