With the weather warming up, many of us are starting to eat outdoors again and to celebrate the most popular outdoor cuisine, it’s National BBQ Week from the 27th of May to the 2nd of June. All around the country people are getting together and having BBQs with friends, colleagues and family.
Just because you’re eating outdoors, it doesn’t mean you can compromise on food hygiene or food safety. Cooking outdoors can be a lot of fun so it’s worth remembering the basics to protect yourself and your guests from upset stomachs, discomfort and even food poisoning.
These are our top food safety tips for BBQ meals:
- Always wash your hands and cooking utensils
You probably do this on autopilot when preparing, cooking and serving food indoors and there are just as many germs outside to protect yourself from. Use soap and warm water to thoroughly clean your hands and insist your helpers do the same.
- Always separate raw food from cooked food to avoid contamination
This is an important but easily overlooked tip which can have severe consequences, such as contracting salmonella, E. coli, lister or campylobacter. Make sure you have a separate plate, chopping board, or surface for handling raw meat. Remember when moving meat from the BBQ to serve, never put cooked meat onto a plate which held the raw meat as the germs will still be there.
- When lighting the BBQ, make sure it’s the right temperature before cooking
This applies to both charcoal and gas BBQs. With gas, the heat should be controlled by a dial and accompanied by an indicator light. Remember to service your gas BBQ regularly and always check the cylinders, hoses and connections before lighting. With charcoal, it can take 15 minutes or more for the coal to turn grey and ash to cover the briquettes before it is ready for cooking food to begin. Never put petrol on a BBQ.
- Thoroughly defrost all meat products before cooking
When cooking on a BBQ, food must be thoroughly defrosted before cooking. The heat from a BBQ is different and thawed out meat will cook more evenly and safely. This applies to all meats, chicken, fish, red meat, and the recommendation is to defrost meat overnight in the fridge in advance of your BBQ.
- Check everything is cooked and piping hot before serving
It might sound obvious, but if you have hungry guests or lots of food on the go, it can be hard to keep track of which batch of sausages went on first, or whether the kebabs need turning again. There’s no shame in using a meat thermometer to double check which food is ready and which food needs longer to cook. A general tip is to make sure there’s no pink meat in sausages or burgers, that the food is steaming hot, and any meat juice runs clear.
- Look after your BBQ, tools, utensils and serving dishes ready for next time
At the end of your BBQ it’s important to tidy up afterwards. Clear away any leftover food to prevent attracting unwanted insects and animals into your garden. Wait for the coals and hot ash to cool before disposing safely. Wash all tools, plates and cutlery in warm soapy water and store in a safe container or back indoors. Hopefully family and friends will help clear up and you can relax and plan your next BBQ.
These are just some of the tips to help make the 23rd National BBQ Week a fun and exciting week for eating outdoors and bringing friends and family together. For more information on food safety, please contact us on 0845 272 3558.