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.
Follow this simple advice from the Food Standards Agency to keep your family safe this summer.
- Pre-cook – Cook all chicken 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. Sausages, burgers and kebabs can all be pre-cooked.
- 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 evenly. Cut open and check your burgers, sausages and chicken. If in doubt – keep cooking.
- Disposable BBQs take longer to heat up and to cook food.
- 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.
- Don’t wash raw chicken or other meat, it just splashes germs. Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, but washing chicken, or other meat, can spread dangerous bugs on to your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops by splashing.
- 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.
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. Most people recover but not all. It is a common trigger for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, sometimes resulting in permanent paralysis.
- E. coli is often passed through raw and undercooked meats that can lead to bloody diarrhoea, stomach pains, vomiting and occasionally fever.
- 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.
- 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.