Are you the King or Queen of the BBQ’s…. not everyone is a skilled barbecue-ist. As summer comes into full swing, everyone is beginning to look forward to as many weekend BBQs with friends and families across the UK as our stomachs can handle. However, BBQs are notorious for poor hygiene as food often gets left out for long periods of time, and a lot of under-cooking often takes place and no-body wants a dollop of cross-contamination on their plate!
As a food hygiene expert, I’ve put together a brief list of FIVE tips for hosting a successful and safe BBQ.
1 . WASH, WASH, WASH!
Your hands especially should be kept clean at all times as they are the most common vehicle for transferring food poisoning bacteria. Wash your hands for 30 seconds with antibacterial soap to really get clean, and make sure you don’t contaminate your hands again!
So before touching any food, make sure you’ve washed your hands if you’ve been handling raw foods, touching your face, hair, ears, dirty clothes, etc. If there is no source of clean water use disposable wipes, hand sanitiser or food gloves…. don’t wipe your hands on your oven cloth or apron!
Wash your utensils, serving dishes, chopping boards for raw and cooked foods in between use, especially if they’ve previously had raw food in to avoid cross-contamination and no wiping with a cloth to clean them either.
Many households do it but do NOT wash your chicken before use. All this does is splashes germs around the sink and surrounding worktop and onto your clothes and hands. When chicken is cooked well, all harmful germs are killed in the process, making washing chicken more of a hindrance than a help. Always wash salad thoroughly before prepping.
2. PRE-COOK YOUR MEAT AND POULTRY
Although this may seem to not be in the spirit of a proper BBQ, it is a far better alternative to potentially making your guests ill! By pre-cooking meat and poultry in the oven, you ensure that that it has been cooked through properly and that it’s safe. Take your meat and poultry out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, otherwise, anything that is cold will take longer to heat up.
You can still finish off the cooking process with a quick blast on the BBQ to get the char-grilled flavour – but beware, charring on the outside doesn’t guarantee cooked food on the inside. By using the pre-cook method, you can make sure this isn’t the case.
“Why can you cook a steak medium but not a chicken breast?”
Chicken is associated mainly with Campylobacter and Salmonella – these bacteria are commonly found in the muscle of chicken, as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream of the animal and can, therefore, be found throughout the flesh. This means it requires thorough cooking to eliminate the bacteria and to make the meat safe to eat. With beef, however, food poisoning usually occurs due to surface contamination and the presence of e.coli. Therefore, as long as the outer surface of the steak is cooked, the inner part should not be contaminated, so you can eat your steak how you like it!
3. BBQ BASICS
When using BBQs, especially coal-fuelled ones, achieving a high enough heat can be a difficult task in itself. However, before putting any meat, poultry and fish on the grill always make sure the coals are glowing red with a grey ashy surface.
This is how you know you’ve reached a high enough temperature. Also, with these kinds of BBQs it can be difficult to keep the heat consistent across the grill, so make sure you regularly turn the meat and move it around to get an even cook. Be mindful that disposable BBQs take longer to heat up and longer to cook food, so don’t prematurely take your meat off the grill.
4. STORAGE RULES
There are certain rules you should always follow regarding the storage and refrigeration of meat and poultry. Always keep them on the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination and don’t use after the “Use by Date” as this is a big safety issue.
High-risk foods in BBQ season are usually meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy as they have a lot of protein and moisture, they must be taken care of the most. They must be kept below 5°C degrees in the fridge before cooking, or above 63°C degrees on a hotplate before serving. Perishable foods should be stored under refrigeration to prevent bacteria from multiplying and to slow down the rate of spoilage. When your food is out on display and everyone is eating, the general rule is that cold food can be displayed up to 4 hours and hot food for 2 hours. Make sure your guests are hungry though as it’s dangerous to put food back into the fridge! If you are using skewers, don’t forget to soak them, otherwise, the wood will burn before the food.
5. CHECK YOUR COOKING
Always test your meat and poultry before serving – burgers and sausages should be cooked all the way through until steaming hot inside and ensure you have reached a temperature of 75°C plus except steaks.
With all meats, you should check the middle as it takes the longest time for the heat to travel to cook it. The main reason sausages and burgers should be cooked thoroughly is because they are minced. and you should never have any pinkness inside your chicken. When checking your poultry, cut through the thickest portion to make sure even the meatiest parts are all done and the juices run clear. Always let your meat rest before serving.
These FIVE pointers are the key things to remember when hosting a barbeque for friends and family, so make sure you follow them! However, this list isn’t the be-all and end-all of barbeque safety.
If you aren’t sure about something, ask Sylvia – the Food Hygiene Expert at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.sylviaaconsultancy.co.uk
But most importantly, make sure you make the most of the sun with your family, friends and enjoy your BBQ!