Avoid Outdoor Cooking Mistakes: 6 Barbecue Food Safety Tips

By Monica Wilson on May 29, 2012

BBQs are one of the best ways to enjoy get-togethers with friends and family especially during the summer season. But it could also be a one great opportunity for disease-causing compounds to get through your stomach. So before you get your barbecue fired up, make sure you know how to prepare your BBQ safely.

Barbecue meat and vegetables makes dining more special. Imagine the appetising smell when some part of the meat is a bit charred. But you could be exposing yourself from the possibility of food poisoning which, according to the NHS, is very frequent during summer as people chose to take their foods out.

Cooking meat on a barbecue usually ends up with it being undercooked. This is not really health-friendly because raw meat can contain germs and bacteria (such as E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter) that can cause food poisoning and other digestive problems. There is also a possibility to spread these germs to the food that is ready to eat. The charred areas of the food, though very delicious, contain harmful compounds which have been found to cause cancer.

The good news is – there is a better, much healthier way to enjoy your barbecue. We got some tips for you:

Precook your food in the oven

The safest way to barbecue outdoors, according to a spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), is to cook food in the oven and take it out on a barbecue for flavouring. This ensures that the food you’re cooking on the barbecue is not undercooked.

Fire it safely

The Fire Services recommends covering the bottom of the barbecue with coal of no more than 2 inches. When lighting the coal, never use petroleum. You can simply use starter fuel and firelighter.

Make sure the coals are burning hot

Make sure that the coals under your barbecue are glowing in red and have grey, powdery surfaces before you put on the meat. This way, you’re pretty sure that they’re hot enough to cook the meat thoroughly. Turn it from time to time to cook so the heat spreads evenly, cooking all parts of the meat. Once you see that it has no more pink areas, the middle part is hot, and there’s no extra juices, your meat is ready to serve. If your food is frozen, don’t forget to thaw it before laying them down on the barbecue.

Don’t serve until completely cooked

One of the many mistakes people do when cooking on a barbecue is relying on the colour of the food when determining if it’s cooked or not. Using a thermometer is a brilliant idea to ensure that foods particularly meats are cooked well, advised an American food safety expert. The FSA warns that charred meat doesn’t always mean that it is already cooked. They recommend slicing the thickest portion and checking if there’s any pink part.

Avoid cross-contamination

The germs from the raw meat can easily spread on your hands and on every food you touch. This is called cross-contamination. To avoid this from happening, make sure to wash your hands after touching raw meat. Use separate utensils for the cooked food and the raw ones. Make sure that the raw meat is kept in a sealed container and is separated from those that are to be served. Some people have a habit of using the sauce or marinade in both cooked and raw meat. Don’t do this as the germs can spread easily.

Keep it cool

There are some foods that must be kept cool until they’re eaten to avoid the spread of germs and bacteria. These include salads, sandwiches, dips, yogurt, cream, milk, and desserts. Don’t leave the food several hours outside the fridge and never under the sun.  

At this point, you are more than ready for a healthy and fun barbecue. So what are you waiting for? Start firing up you barbecue!

 

 

Sources of this article:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Barbecuefoodsafety.aspx

Avoid outdoor cooking mistakes that can make people sick, by Pennsylvania State University

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