Just because you’re cooking outdoors, don’t let your good habits in the kitchen go up in smoke when you light the barbeque – you want your friends and neighbours to go home with memories of a good time, not a tummy bug to remember you by.

To make the most of your barbeque, here are some top food safety tips:

Before you get grilling

if this is your first time barbecuing this year, give your barbecue grill a thorough clean by scrubbing the metal rack with a suitable oven cleaner or a damp brush dipped in bicarbonate of soda. And remember to rinse it thoroughly with warm, soapy water afterwards

Keep your cool

Food is away from your fridge for a longer period of time when cooking and eating outdoors which can lead to germs multiplying quickly. Keep perishable foods like salads, coleslaw and quiche in your fridge until you need them.

Before you start cooking

  • Make sure frozen foods are fully thawed (preferably in the fridge on the bottom shelf; which may take overnight) before you start cooking them.
  • Keep foods you plan to cook properly chilled in the fridge or a cool box until needed.
  • Light your barbecue well in advance - for charcoal barbecues, the flames should have died down before you start cooking.

It’s in your hands

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food. 
  • Remember to keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods like salads. 
  • Always use separate utensils for handling raw and cooked meat when cooking. 
  • Never put cooked food on a dish that has been used for raw meat or poultry (unless it’s been thoroughly washed in between) 
  • Keep food covered whenever possible.

Cook with confidence

The big issue when barbecuing is making sure the food has been cooked properly  all the way through. This is particularly important when cooking poultry, pork, minced and skewered meats, such as burgers, sausages and kebabs on the barbecue - while the outside may look cooked (and in some cases burnt), the inside can still be raw.

We recommend these meats should always be cooked until they are piping hot all the way through, with no pink meat remaining and the juices run clear. If you’ve got lots of people visiting your barbecue and want to ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked, you can pre-cook meat in your kitchen oven just before you put it on the barbeque for flavour. 

How to know it’s cooked

When cooking foods on the barbeque, make sure to turn them regularly and move them around the grill to ensure they area cooked evenly on all sides – then remove them from the heat and place them on a clean plate. For meats that need to be cooked all the way through be sure to cut into the centre of them to check that:

  • They are piping hot all the way through
  • There is no pink meat left and
  • The juices run clear
  • Check with a meat thermometer: ensure the internal temperature of chicken and beef burgers and sausages are cooked to at least 75 degrees centigrade. Make sure the temperature stays at 75 or above for 30 seconds  

Steaks or whole meat joints of beef or lamb can be served rare as long as they are cooked on the outside as any harmful bacteria will be on the outside only, and not in the centre.

Mind the marinade

If you use marinade with your barbeque, make sure any marinade used on raw meat is not then used as a sauce to coat cooked vegetables or cooked meat as it will contain raw meat bacteria!

If you want to use marinade as a sauce, be sure to cook it in a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil before serving it.

Using leftovers

If you have any leftovers from your barbeque, these should not be left outside where they could be in the sun and where insects and animals could get at them. As with all leftovers, cover these foods and allow them to cool down in a cool place (your kitchen) before placing in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking and use within three days. If you’re reheating leftovers, reheat them only once until piping hot but if in doubt, throw them out.