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Food safety and your barbecue

Cooking food outdoors can increase the risk of food poisoning. It's harder to keep foods very hot or very cold to prevent bacteria growing and to keep everything clean. But with a little extra care barbecues can be safe, as well as great fun.
To help reduce the likelihood of food poisoning simply follow this advice:

Be a clean cook

  • Always wash hands before touching any food.
  • Make sure all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces are clean before use. Use a sanitiser (combined cleaner and disinfectant) if you have one.
  • Clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.
  • Do not touch raw foods, then cooked or ready to eat foods (salads, cheeses cooked ham, quiches etc that will not be cooked), without washing your hands again.
  • Use separate utensils and storage containers for raw and cooked and ready to eat foods. Do not handle cooked foods with utensils that have been used for raw foods.
  • Wash salads and raw vegetables well to remove surface contamination. Do not prepare these foods too far in advance.

Control raw food temperatures

  • After shopping get chilled and frozen food home as quickly as possible, put them straight in the fridge or freezer.
  • Make sure the fridge is below 5 C and the freezer is keeping food frozen ideally at -18 C.
  • Defrost frozen meats and poultry before use in the bottom of the fridge overnight fully before cooking, unless the cooking instructions state otherwise.
  • Keep raw meats cold until its time to cook them.
  • Light your barbecue well in advance, make sure you use enough charcoal and wait until it's glowing red with a powdery grey surface before starting to cook.
  • Preheat gas barbecues following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Undercooked burgers, sausages, poultry and chopped or minced meat can be a serious health hazard. Take extra care to cook them throughout until the juices run clear and no pink bits remain. Follow the cooking instructions on the pack.
  • For extra safety pre-cook meat in the oven or microwave, keep it hot or take it straight to and finish it on the barbecue.
  • Use a thermometer to check the centre of the meat has reached 75C.
  • During cooking if the food starts to burn on the outside, it will not mean that the inside has been at a temperature that will kill bacteria, raise the grill height or reduce the heat of the barbecue by partially closing the air vents. Cook the food for long enough to make sure it is cooked all the way through.

Keep bacteria at bay

  • At all times, keep food to be cooked away from food which is ready to eat.
  • Keep your pets from coming into contact with food and wash your hands after touching pets.

Store foods safely

  • Keep ready to eat cooked meats and salads cold until it's time to eat them.
  • Keep raw meats cold until it's time to cook them.
  • Do not leave food out in the warm temperature. Once outdoors perishable food should be kept in a cool box or bag with ice packs until it is ready to eat or cook.
  • Keep food covered in serving bowls until just before you want to eat them to protect them from insects and dust.
  • Do not eat foods past their use by date.

Safe eating

  • Everyone should wash his or her hands before eating.
  • Eat food as soon as it is ready.
  • Throw away perishable food that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Ideally put left over food in the refrigerator and use within 48 hours.
  • Make sure all food waste is put in the bin. 

More information