Food Safety and your barbecue

Food Safety and your barbecue

That time is upon us and if you happen to be barbecuing then do have a checklist of things to do before you actually cook on the barbecue. Cooking food outdoors can increase the risk of food poisoning. It’s harder to keep foods very hot or very cold and to keep everything clean. However, with a little extra care barbecues can be safe as well.

A little planning in advance helps to make cooking much more enjoyable.


Defrost frozen meats and poultry (in the fridge or microwave) fully before cooking, unless the cooking instructions state otherwise. Defrosting could mean the day before.

Make sure all cooking and eating utensils are spotlessly clean before use.

Sit the barbecue on a firm level surface away from buildings, shrubs and trees with room to move around it.

Clean your grill with a sturdy wire brush before using it.

Allow at least 45 minutes from lighting up the barbecue and make sure you use enough charcoal to when you start cooking. Wait until the flames have subsided and the coals are glowing red with a coating of powdery grey ash before you start to barbecue.

Once the barbecue its alight never leave it unattended.

Oven cook large batches to make sure they are properly cooked before finishing on the barbecue for that chargrilled taste.

Sprinkle rosemary or thyme onto your coals to give your food a lovely herby flavour or a few cinnamon sticks for an Indian taste.

Don’t leave perishable foods out in the warm air. Once outdoors, perishable foods should be kept cold in a cool bag with ice packs until they are ready to cook or eat or better still leave in the refrigerator if at all possible.

Trim fat off meats to make them lean.

Wash hands before touching foods and after handling raw foods, especially raw meat and poultry.

Place a sheet of foil on top of the grill when you’re cooking delicate items.

Use tongs instead of a fork to turn meat as this keeps in all the flavoursome juices.

Wash hands before touching food. Clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.

Have all the utensils and equipment you need before you start to cook.


Keep foods to be cooked, away from foods which are ready to eat.

Keep raw and cooked meats apart. Don’t handle cooked food with utensils that have touched raw meats.

Remember to wash your hands after handling raw meat.

Wash salads and raw vegetables well to remove all traces of soil and any insects. Don’t prepare these foods too far in advance.

Keep meats, salads and other perishable foods cold until it is time to cook or eat them.

Keep serving bowls covered to protect food from dust and insects.

Brush food lightly with oil to prevent sticking but don’t brush the grill itself, it will burn your brush.

It’s best to cook food on a preheated grill, as this sears (browns on the outside) it and prevents sticking. If you have an adjustable grill, sear your meat over high heat first then move to a lower heat to finish.

Make sure vegetarian foods are kept separate from non-vegetarian raw foods before cooking and also on the grill.

Shake off marinade excess to avoid flame flare ups before putting on the barbecue.

During cooking, if food starts to burn on the outside, raise the grill height or reduce the heat of the charcoal (dampen coals slightly or partially close air vents).

Turn your food regularly on the barbecue to ensure even cooking.

Test to see that meat has cooked properly by pressing with your finger – it feels more resistant as it cooks. When you pierce the thickest part with a small sharp knife, the juices should run clear.

Undercooked burgers, chopped or minced meat, sausages and poultry can be a serious health hazard, so take extra care to cook them so that they are piping hot throughout. Never eat these meats rare.

If possible, pre-cook all poultry in the oven, then take them straight to the barbecue to finish off.

Everyone should wash their hands before eating.

Eat food as soon as it is ready.


Any left-overs should be stored in clean, covered containers in the fridge and eaten within 48 hours.

Throw away any perishable food that has been left out at ambient air temperature for more than a couple of hours. Put all food scraps and used paper plates into a covered rubbish bin.

Thoroughly clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.

Make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it and that there are no glowing embers.

Empty cold ash onto bare garden soil. Never put it in the dustbin.

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