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Assorted food cooks on a bbq

Keep BBQ safe this weekend

by Guy Murphy

Summer is the perfect time to fire up the BBQ and cook outside with family and friends. However, warm weather also provides the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and so it is important that you take steps to keep food safe.

Don’t forget that food poisoning can be more than just a sore stomach and can often be far more serious.

It is easy to avoid food poisoning by following food hygiene measures and keeping things clean.

Don’t forget to take steps to ensure that your BBQ is fire safe too. You can find handy tips from Merseyside Fire and Rescue here.

Preparing your BBQ

  • Wash your hands and clean all your utensils and surfaces (this includes your BBQ). Effective cleaning will get rid of any harmful bacteria that might be hanging around.
  • Check any use-by-dates and ensure any frozen meat is fully defrosted. You should defrost food overnight in the fridge.
  • If you are cooking on charcoal, make sure you give the coals enough time to get hot enough to cook with. They should be glowing red with a grey, powdery surface

Cooking your food

  • Avoid cross-contamination by:
    • Storing raw meat separately from other foods
    • Use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food
    • Wash your hands after touching raw meat
  • If you’re worried about barbeque cooking, you could always cook your meat in the oven first. By cooking it in the oven first and giving it a final finish on the BBQ, you can ensure it is cooked all the way through and still have the chargrilled barbecue taste.
  • Cook meat thoroughly
    • Red meat such as steaks can be served pink, rare or bloody and pose no risk to health
    • Other meats, such as chicken, pork, kebabs, sausages and burgers should not be served pink.

Serving food safely at a BBQ

  • Use different plates for raw meat, cooked meat, and ready to eat foods. Use different utensils for serving them too.
  • Keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation.
  • Keep any perishable foods chilled and out of the sun until serving

Managing leftovers

If you have food left over from your barbecue, it can be enjoyed another day if stored properly.

  • Cover and cool cooked foods quickly to room temperature. Store them in the fridge within one to two hours.
  • Take any leftovers indoors and out of the sunlight and away any insects
  • You should look to consume the leftovers from your barbecue within 48 hours. If you’re reheating anything, only reheat it once and make sure it’s piping hot before serving.

Don’t take a risk

If you’re in doubt about the safety of your food, don’t take the risk.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “With the sunshine finally arriving, I know many residents are ready to fire up the BBQs and get ready to host family and friends.

“If you’re planning to cook outside in the sun, please follow the guidance outlined above to ensure that you keep food safe!”