Lots of people will be planning a barbecue over the bank holiday weekend, so Epping Forest District Council’s Environmental Health team has put together some top tips to help prevent food poisoning.
Be aware of the dangers
With an estimated 1 million cases of food poisoning in the UK each year as a consequence of unsafe barbecue food, it is important to be aware of the dangers of foodborne diseases, such as Campylobacter, listeria and salmonella.
Environment Portfolio Holder Cllr Nigel Avey said :“A summer of sports, weddings and scorching weather means many of us have been experiencing full barbecue fever. The hot weather this summer means anyone planning a barbecue needs to be even more careful.
“Most of us know the danger of not cooking chicken all the way through, but we need to have the same vigilance when it comes to burgers and sausages. A common misconception is that burgers are like steak and can be eaten rare, but when they are still pink in the middle, they are three times more likely to contain harmful bacteria.”
Top tips for staying food safe
Here are our ten easy tips for staying food safe when cooking on the barbie:
- COME CLEAN
Wash your hands thoroughly before cooking and eating. Wash your utensils and serving dishes in between use, taking special care not to mix up dishes used for holding raw food with dishes for cooked food.
- KEEP YOUR COOL
Defrost food in the fridge, NOT at room temperature, and ensure it is fully defrosted before cooking. When storing cooked food, cool it at room temperature before putting it in the fridge, and make sure you get it in the fridge within 2 hours.
- FRIDGE CHECK
Generally, the colder the temperature, the slower the germs grow, so regularly check your fridge is cold enough – it should be below 5°C.
- Avoid cross contamination by storing raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods. Use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food. Do not prepare food for others if you suffering from an illness e.g. vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
- STAYING COOL ON THE GO
Continue to keep food cool by using a cool box when heading out for a picnic or barbecue. Keep the lid on as much as possible and don’t leave food out for longer than two hours – or one hour if it’s very hot.
- FEEL THE HEAT
Cook food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed. If using a probe thermometer, the thickest part of the meat should reach 70°c for 2 minutes. Turn meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.
- MARINADE MINDFULLY
When applying a marinade to meat, be careful. Don’t baste partially and cooked meat with a marinade that has been used on raw meat, as this can lead to cross-contamination. If you would like to apply the marinade again as a baste – boil it in a pan, and it will be safe to use.
- DON’T BEEF UP THE BARBIE
Never overload your barbecue and remember that disposable barbecues take longer to heat up and cook food, so be patient!
- CHECK IT’S DONE
Always check that meat juices run clear and that no pink meat is visible when cutting through the thickest part. Remember, charred on the outside doesn’t always mean cooked on the inside!
- FINAL FINISH
Consider cooking all chicken and pork in the oven and then giving them a final ‘finish’ on the barbecue where possible. This ensures that meat is safely cooked through, whilst retaining that great smoky barbecue flavour.
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