How to barbecue safely

We all want to serve up a sensational barbecue that also helps keep our family and friends safe. And it’s great to look spontaneous, but it’s safer and easier on the day if you prepare in advance. You can help avoid the build-up of food poisoning bugs by taking the following simple steps.

man and woman eating at barbecue party

If you want to serve up a sensational barbecue that also helps keep your family and friends safe, take the following simple steps to avoid the build-up of food poisoning bugs. Cases of food poisoning almost double during the summer, and research shows that the undercooking of raw meat and the contamination of bacteria onto the food we eat are among the main reasons.

1. Pre-cook

It’s a very good idea to cook all chicken (including chicken on the bone) in the oven prior to giving it a final ‘finish’ on your barbecue. Your friends and family will still experience that special barbecue ‘scorched’ taste – and you will know that you’ve cooked the chicken all the way through. This technique can also be used for sausages, burgers and kebabs if you’re cooking for large numbers, as you’ll want to avoid providing undercooked food.

2. Charred doesn’t mean cooked

Cook your barbecue food thoroughly until you are sure that your poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are steaming hot, with no pink meat inside. Turning meat regularly and moving it around the barbecue will help to cook it evenly. Charred on the outside doesn’t always mean cooked on the inside so, it’s always safer to cut open and check your burgers, sausages and chicken. If in doubt – keep cooking.

3. Disposable BBQs take longer

Disposable BBQs take longer to heat up and to cook food. Always check that your meat is cooked right through before serving.

4. Avoid cross-contamination

Store raw meat separately before cooking, use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and dry them before handling your food for the barbecue and after handling raw foods including meat, fish, eggs and vegetables.

5. Don’t wash raw chicken

Don’t wash raw chicken or other meat, it just splashes germs. Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter. On the other hand, washing chicken, or other meat, can spread dangerous bugs on to your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops by splashing.

6. Keep plates and cutlery away from raw meat and fish

Keep plates and cutlery away from raw meat and fish, never serve your guests cooked food on a plate or surface that’s had raw meat or fish on it, and don’t use cutlery or marinades that have been in contact with raw meat. There’s no point in serving up food with a flourish if you’re adding bugs back into the mix.


Facts about barbecue bugs

Campylobacter is the most common food poisoning bug in the UK. It’s passed on to humans in undercooked poultry, and can lead to people being very ill indeed. It can even lead to permanent disability. Most people recover, but not all.

Listeria can turn up in pates and salads. This bug is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as it can lead to a miscarriage, but the most at risk from all the barbecue bugs are children and older people.

E.coli is often passed on through raw and undercooked meats and can lead to bloody diarrhoea, stomach pains, vomiting and occasionally fever.

Salmonella is another common bug found on raw meat and undercooked poultry. It leads to fever, vomiting and stomach pains and it can make you ill for weeks.