Us Brits love a BBQ, whether it’s a crowd pleaser for your hospitality business or entertaining family and friends at home.
The pandemic has also fed our appetite for barbecued food, with its popularity soaring thanks to restrictions and staycations. In fact, last year the increase in spending boosted the barbecue market to £12.4 million, according to Kantar’s research.
Indeed, barbecuing is the essence of summer and chargrilled meat, fish and vegetables taste divine with crisp, fresh salad. However, food safety must remain a priority and we need to remember to barbecue safely to avoid cross contamination, food poisoning, accidents and ill health.
So, with a nod to the popularity of this alfresco way of cooking and with National BBQ Week upon us, our Food Alert experts have got their heads together to present their top food and fire safety tips to ensure your BBQ is a success and your guests are safely catered for:
1. Make sure the barbecue is stable
Before you begin, check that the barbecue is stable, strong and sturdy and located outdoors, on level ground and away from fences, sheds overhanging trees. Always take care when lighting it and never use petrol or other accelerants which are explosive and can cause serious injury!
2. Keep raw food separate
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry separate from cooked/ready to eat food. This helps to avoid contaminating ready to serve food with food poisoning bacteria.
3. Wash your hands
You must wash your hands after handling raw foods and before touching ready to eat foods.
4. Learn how to use utensils
Always use different utensils and plates for raw items and cooked/ready to eat foods.
5. Ensure meat is thoroughly thawed
Ensure that meat is thoroughly thawed before you begin cooking.
6. Don't wash raw chicken
Don’t wash raw chicken! Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs around your kitchen by splashing.
7. Pre-cook meat and poultry in the oven
Whilst everyone loves the delicious chargrilled, smoky flavour of a barbecue, it is good practice to pre-cook meat and poultry in the oven, before transferring it the barbecue to give it that authentic taste. Undercooked meat and poultry is a serious health hazard, leading to food poisoning from bacteria such as campylobacter, E. coli 0157 and salmonella. These can result in serious illness including vomiting, fever and diarrhoea.
8. Ensure meat is cooked thoroughly
Ensure meat is cooked thoroughly in particular poultry, pork, burgers and sausages – the outside can appear cooked and charred when the inside is still raw. Turn the food regularly to ensure it is cooked evenly on all sides.
9. Check food is ready to serve
You can check your BBQ’d meat is ready to serve by cutting into the centre – there shouldn’t be any pink meat and the juices run clear. Even better use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature has reach 75 oC. NB: Steaks, or whole joints of beef or lamb can be served rare as long as they are cooked on the outside. Any harmful bacteria will be on the outside only, and not in the centre.
10. Refrigerate all meats, salads and desserts
Refrigerate all meats, salads and desserts until they are needed. Leaving food in the sunlight and in warm temperatures can lead to growth of food poisoning bacteria.
11. Use long handled tools
Use long handled tools to avoid burns or scalds to your hands or arms.
12. Keep food covered
Keep food covered before and after serving. If there are any leftovers, refrigerate as soon as possible.
13. Be careful of steam
Be careful of steam when opening foil parcels – the temperature can rise significantly, and the steam could scald you.
14. Remember that the metal parts of a barbecue can become hot
Remember that the metal parts of a barbecue can become hot – don’t try to move it until it has cooled down.
15. Don't leave children unsupervised near a barbecue
Don’t leave children [and pets] unsupervised near a barbecue! Hot coals and fire are extremely dangerous.
16. Make sure that the barbecue is completely extinguished
Finally, make sure that the barbecue is completely extinguished when you have finished cooking and ensure that it has cooled down significantly before you dispose of any coals.
Happy BBQ everyone! The forecast might be looking a bit wet but we won’t let that get in the way of a BBQ!