We know the Irish summers aren’t exactly reliable in terms of the weather and this year, in particular, is a bit of a washout… so far anyway. But on the off-chance that we do get a bit of sun and you decide to break out the BBQ, you’ll want to read these tips to make sure your BBQ is safe and enjoyable for all.
Credit to SafeFood for the tips.
Top food safety tips for your BBQ
Just because you’re cooking outdoors, don’t let your good habits in the kitchen go up in smoke when you light the barbecue. 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 barbecue, here are some top food safety tips.
Before you get grilling
If this is your first time barbecuing this year, give your BBQ grill a thorough clean by scrubbing the metal rack with a suitable oven cleaner or a damp brush dipped in bicarbonate of soda. 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 sauces/dips 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 in 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 cooking the meat all the way through. This is particularly important when cooking poultry, pork, minced and skewered meats, such as burgers, sausages and kebabs on the BBQ. While the outside may look cooked (and in some cases burnt), the inside could still be raw.
Meats should always be cooked until they are piping hot all the way through, with no pink bits and until the juices run clear. If you’ve got lots of people visiting your BBQ and want to ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked, pre-cook it in your kitchen oven before putting it on the barbecue.
How to know your meat is cooked
When cooking foods on the barbecue, make sure to turn them regularly and move them around the grill to ensure they are 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, cut into their centre to check that:
- They are piping hot all the way through
- There is no pink meat left
- The juices run clear
Once steaks or whole meat joints are cooked on the outside they can be served rare. Any harmful bacteria will be on the outside only, and not in the centre.
Mind the Marinade
Any marinade used on raw meat should never be used to coat vegetables or cooked meat. It will contain raw meat bacteria! If you want to use the marinade as a sauce, cook it in a saucepan and bring to a boil before serving.
Any leftovers from your barbecue should be brought inside away from the sun or any insects or animals. As with all leftovers, cover these foods and allow them to cool down before refrigerating. Do this within two hours of cooking and use within three days. If you’re reheating leftovers, reheat them only once until piping hot. And remember; “If in doubt throw it out”.
So there you have it, a few simple steps to safely enjoy a BBQ this summer (if it ever arrives).
Now, all we need is the sun!