So you’re planning to be a barbeque hero for the Big BBQ weekend (11-12 July). But it takes more than donning a chef’s hat and apron to make sure you don’t have a barbeque disaster casting you as the villain!
Whether you’re a natural born griller, or dusting off the coals for the first time, enjoying a barbeque is part of the fun of summer - after all, it’s the perfect excuse to get together with family and friends and relax in the sunshine and light nights.
But with more than 500,000 cases of food poisoning each year in the UK - salmonella being one of the main causes of hospital admissions - it’s important to know how you can avoid the sizzle being taken out of your fun.
Dr. Gavin Ralston, a local GP and Chair of Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Cases of food poisoning almost double over the summer months. Food poisoning is caused by eating food contaminated by bacteria, such as salmonella or Escherichia coli (E. coli), or a virus, such as the norovirus.
“Although food poisoning is usually mild, and most people get better within a week, there are times when it can be more severe, so it's important to take the risks seriously. Children, older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning. Following these simple steps will help to keep food safe.”
Simple steps include:
• Making sure the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking to make sure they are hot enough;
• Ensuring that frozen meat is properly thawed before it’s cooked;
• Regularly turning the meat and moving it around the barbecue to ensure it is cooked evenly; and
• Always cutting the meat at the thickest part to ensure none of it is pink on the inside. Don’t assume that because meat is charred on the outside it will be cooked properly on the inside.
Remember that meat is safe to eat only when:
• It is piping hot in the centre;
• There is no pink meat visible; and
• Any juices are clear.
To prevent cross-contamination:
• Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching raw meat. Make sure you dry them properly too. Damp hands encourage germs;
• Use separate utensils (plates, tongs, containers) for cooked and raw meat;
• Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has had raw meat on it;
• Keep raw meat in a sealed container away from foods that are ready to eat, such as salads and buns;
• Never wash raw chicken or other poultry before cooking as this increases the risk of spreading campylobacter bacteria;
• Never put raw meat next to cooked or partly cooked meat on the barbecue; and
• Never put sauce or marinade on cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat.
Most cases of food poisoning can be treated at home with over the counter medicines. However, if you are worried about your symptoms and need advice, talk to your local pharmacy or call NHS 111, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Simply dial 111 and you will be put through to the NHS.
For more information on barbeque food safety, visit www.nhs.uk
Picture caption: Follow some simple steps to keep food safe.
Notes to editors
• The Big BBQ weekend is run by Cancer Research UK. It aims to encourage people across the country to host a barbeque weekend in July in aid of cancer research: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org
• Statistics from Food Standards Agency: