BBQ and Event Safety

How should food be prepared?

  • Try not to prepare food too far in advance.
  • Handle food as little as possible, and wash hands frequently.
  • Always wash raw fruit and veg in water from the mains supply.
  • Make sure frozen food is properly thawed, preferably in the fridge. If food is thawed in the kitchen make sure it is covered. Never defrost food using a heat supply such as hairdryer.
  • Don't attempt to cool food too quickly by placing it straight in the fridge - it will warm the fridge and put other foods at risk.

How should we transport foods to the site?

  • Keep raw and cooked food separate
  • Store high risk foods in a cool bag or ice box

What simple rules can we follow when at the site?

  • Prepare high risk foods (sausages, beefburgers and poultry) last and low risk foods (salads) first. If possible cook meat in the kitchen and finish on the BBQ.
  • Don't let hot foods cool slowly - keep hot, keep cold or don't keep at all. Allowing food to cool on the BBQ. 1,000 bacteria can grow to 1,000,000 in 1 hour 40 minutes.
  • When reheating food make sure that you do so thoroughly. Food that is only partially heated may still contain harmful bacteria.
  • When picnicking, if possible use canned or tinned meat and open on site. Pressurised cans of cream are much safer than cartons.
  • Don't leave high risk foods in the sun, such as cheese/cream etc.

How do I ensure meat is cooked correctly?

Meat can become contaminated with bacteria during slaughter and processing. For whole cuts of meat, such as steaks, cutlets and joints, any bacteria are generally on the outside of the meat. If the outside is cooked, this should kill any bacteria, even if the middle of the meat is pink. This means you can eat whole cuts of beef and lamb when they are pink or rare, if you would like to. Whole cuts of pork however should be thoroughly cooked and not served pink or rare.

Bacteria can be found all the way through minced-meat products, such as burgers and sausages, because of the way they are made. This is why it's important to cook sausages and burgers until any juices run clear and there's no pink meat left.

Poultry and game, such as chicken, turkey, duck and goose, can also contain bacteria, so they should be cooked until there's no pink meat left and any juices run clear.

Meat that is minced, skewered or rolled should be cooked until it's piping hot all the way through and none of the meat is still pink, regardless of what type of meat it is.

Venison can be served pink in the middle, if it's a whole cut. Ostrich should not be served rare because it's considered to be like poultry. Make sure it's piping hot all the way through with no pink meat left.

If you're cooking any meat and you're not sure whether it's OK to serve it rare, play it safe and cook it thoroughly.

Are there any rules to follow when handling differing raw meats/poultry?

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after you have touched raw chicken or meat.
  • Always wash chopping boards, knives and utensils in warm soapy water after they have been used with raw chicken or meat and before you use them with other foods.
  • Don't put raw chicken or meat next to cooked food on the grill or barbecue.
  • Don't add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has been used with raw chicken or meat.
  • Store raw chicken and meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it can't touch or drip onto other foods.
  • Use separate tongs and utensils for raw chicken/meat and cooked chicken/meat.

Some people think they should wash raw chicken and meat, but there is no need to do this because any germs will be killed if you cook it thoroughly. If you do wash raw chicken or meat, take care because you could splash germs onto the sink, worktop, dishes, food, or anything else nearby.

To kill off all the germs in raw chicken or meat, it's essential to cook it thoroughly. So how do you know it's properly cooked?

  • Chicken portions - Cut into the portion in the middle, or the thickest part. It should be piping hot inside with no pink meat left.
  • Whole chicken - Pierce the thickest part of the leg (between the drumstick and thigh) with a clean knife or skewer until the juices run out. The juices shouldn't have any pink or red in them. There shouldn't be any pink meat either.
  • Burgers and sausages - Cut into the middle of the burger or sausage. It should be piping hot inside with no pink meat left. Remember not to serve burgers rare, because they can have germs all the way through and these might not be killed if the meat is still pink.
  • Steaks - Seal steaks on the outside, so that every surface is brown. You can do this using a hot frying pan. It's fine to eat steaks rare or pink in the middle, if that is how you like them.

Can I reheat meats?

It's very important to reheat food properly, whether it's a ready meal or leftovers. Always make sure the food is piping hot all the way through. Only reheat food once.

Why is food poisoning generally higher in the Summer?

  • Higher temps allow bacteria to multiply more rapidly
  • People travel long distances with cold food in a hot car
  • Food is prepared a long time in advance and not thoroughly reheated
  • Meat products are not thoroughly cooked at BBQs
  • Veg and fruit are bought and eaten without washing
  • There are more weddings/fetes/parties/picnics
  • People eat more cold food - heating kills bacteria.

What are high risk foods?

Foods that are most likely to cause poisoning are those which have been left for long periods of time in warm, moist conditions. Ideally they should be kept under 5C or above 63C.

Include:

  • Liquid foods such as sauces, stocks/gravy and soups
  • Shellfish and seafood
  • Cooked meat
  • Cooked poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked rice
  • Raw eggs in food such as mayonnaise or mousse
  • Reduced sugar jams and low calorie dressings - sugar acts as a preservative and in low calorie goods this has been removed.

What are low risk foods?

  • Dried or pickled foods
  • Food with a high sugar content, eg jam
  • Food with high salt content, eg bacon
  • Chemically-preserved food

What are the most common causes of food poisoning?

  • Food is prepared in advance and stored at warm dangerous temps. Room temp falls into that danger zone.
  • Food is cooled to slowly before being refrigerated
  • Food isn't reheated enough to kill all the bacteria
  • People eat cooked food which has been contaminated by food poisoning bacteria
  • Food is uncooked
  • Poultry is not thawed properly
  • Cooked food is cross contaminated by raw food (such as placing raw meat onto the BBQ then handling cooked meat.
  • Hot food is kept warm at temps of less than 63C
  • Food handlers pass on infections when handling the food
  • Left-overs are used