Barbecue and picnic food safety advice
The main food poisoning risks when using a barbecue are:
- undercooked meat
- spreading germs from raw meat onto food that’s ready to eat
When cooking meat such as burgers, sausages, kebabs, chicken and pork, 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
Think about cooking all chicken and pork in the oven first, then putting the cooked food on the outdoor barbecue for a short time for flavour.
You can get more information and advice on the Food Standards Agency website:
It's also important to think about fire safety and to be alert to the risks of carbon monoxide when barbecuing.
Cases of food poisoning from campylobacter, E. coli, listeria and salmonella increase in the summer months.
Picnickers could be putting themselves at risk by:
- leaving their food out for longer than the recommended two hours
- carrying food to picnics in containers such as plastic bags and picnic baskets, rather than the recommended cool boxes
- putting picnic leftovers back in the fridge or using them for a meal the next day, regardless of how long they have been left out
To help everyone enjoy picnics without worry, these easy tips can help keep you safe:
- wash your hands before preparing a picnic and, if possible, before eating it
- rinse fresh fruits (including those with rinds) and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cool box
- place cold food in a cool box with ice or frozen gel packs - cold food should be stored at 5 °C or below to prevent bacterial growth
- pack drinks in one cool box and perishable foods in another - if using freezer packs (frozen drinks work well for this purpose), distribute them throughout the box, not all at the bottom
- keep your cool box closed – once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cool box is opened as much as you can (this helps to keep the contents cold for longer)
Once you’ve served the picnic, dishes should not sit out for longer than two hours. After this, the risk of bacteria increases and it becomes unsafe to eat, so best to throw it away when you get home.
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