Beat the bugs at your barbecue this summer

Barbecues are all about fun and enjoying a laugh in the sunshine (or a crisp autumn weekend) with friends and family. What’s not so much fun however, is feeling awful the next day or two (in some cases up to week) because of some under-cooked food or poor food hygiene at an outdoor eating event.

Get rid of the bugs at your barbecue this summer

So if you don’t want to cause misery and illness to those around you when you plan your next big grilling party, it’s a good idea to heed the following words of wisdom:

  • Ensure food is cooked all the way through if you’ve got a lot of guests to cook for by doing it in the oven first then bringing it out to the barbecue to finish off and add flavour
  • The best way to make sure food is cooked all the way through (an internal temperature of 165 degrees is ideal) is to heat it at a low and steady temperature. That way you can avoid charred sausages, steaks etc too
  • When outside try not leave food lying around for a while before you start to cook. Keep it in a cool box (especially cold meats) which you’ve added plenty of ice and water to. This is better than a gel pack for keeping food cool. Don’t put drinks in the cool box beside the food though as you don’t want juices in the water
  • Moist wipes and throwaway hand sanitising cloths are a good idea, particularly if you’re picnicking outdoors and there’s no handy supply of running water nearby

The types of illnesses we’re referring to here are nasties such as E-coli 0157, campylobacter and, of course, salmonella – all of which can prove extremely serious and in some cases fatal so there’s no point taking any chances with your guests’ health. And remember too that in high summer temperatures bugs can multiply quickly to unsafe levels.

Cooking meat properly on a barbecue

Always make sure that the barbecue is hot enough before you start cooking. That means the charcoal should be red and powdered grey. Next, never throw a steak or burger (or any meat for that matter) onto the barbecue if it’s not properly thawed. Thirdly, your meat shouldn’t be pink anywhere – especially in the middle – as that’s a classic sign that it isn’t cooked properly all the way through.

The reality of raw meat

Raw meat is where the bug nasties begin. They can settle onto meats and then jump onto other foods such as burgers or salad if the raw meat touches them. This is why it’s important to keep raw meat separate from other foods. Also wash your hands too after handling raw meat otherwise if you pick up another food then …yep, you’ve guessed it, the bugs are passed on. Similarly, wash the cutting board you’ve been preparing the raw meat on. It’s also a good idea to use completely separate utensils to other foods. A common mistake at a barbecue is to lay out sauces or marinades for cooked food, which have already been used to season raw meat sandwiches etc. That’s a big no-no.

Wherever you plan to barbecue this summer just remember these simple tips and we’re sure you’ll have a party to remember – for all the RIGHT reasons.