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Food safety - barbecuing

Many people enjoy barbecuing food outdoors, especially during warm weather. However, there are health risks if you don’t store, prepare and cook your food properly. This guide gives you some helpful tips so that you can enjoy your barbecued food safely.

Barbecuing – the risks

The main risk factors to your health when using a barbecue are:

  • undercooked meat
  • spreading germs from raw meat onto food that’s ready to eat

This is because raw or undercooked meat can contain germs that cause food poisoning.

Keeping safe

The safest option is to pre-cook your food indoors then put the cooked food on the outdoor barbecue for a short time for flavour.

Cooking meat on a barbecue

When you’re cooking meat on a barbecue, such as chicken, pork, steak, burgers or sausages, make sure:

  • the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means that they're hot enough
  • frozen meat is properly thawed before you cook it
  • you turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly

Remember that meat is safe to eat only when:

  • it is piping hot in the centre
  • there is no pink meat visible
  • any juices are clear

Handling raw meat

Germs from raw meat can move easily onto your hands and then onto anything else you touch, including food that is cooked and ready to eat. This can happen if raw meat touches anything, including cooking utensils which then come into contact with other food.

Some simple steps that will help prevent the spread of germs from raw meat are:

  • wash your hands after every time you touch 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 bread
  • 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

Keep food cool

Make sure you keep the following foods cool to help prevent food poisoning:

  • salads
  • dips
  • dairy products such as milk, cream and yoghurt
  • desserts and cream cakes
  • sandwiches
  • ham and other cooked meats
  • cooked rice, including rice salads

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