Safe barbecuing this summer

When the weather is blazing hot, the smell of barbecues is everywhere, and while they are an enjoyable way to spend your weekend, they can also be potentially dangerous.

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Many people are not careful enough when barbecuing meat and the number of food poisoning cases in the UK doubles every summer when the BBQ is brought out. Some cases can be very mild and last roughly a week, but others can be far more severe and even deadly.

The Food Standards Agency recommend the safest method is to cook your food indoors using an oven and then bring it outside to put on the BBQ for the flavour. But if you prefer to use an outdoor grill, remember that the dangers come from meat being undercooked and from germs spreading from raw meat to meat that has already been cooked.

Raw meat can contain bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli and campylobacter. But if you cook the meat until it is piping hot in the centre, has no visible pink meat and the juices run clear, you should be safe.

Other points to remember are that if cooking frozen meat, it should be thoroughly defrosted before being put on the BBQ. Your BBQ coals should be glowing red with a grey powdery surface - this shows that they are hot enough to cook with. Also remember to turn the meat regularly to ensure it is evenly cooked.

When handling raw meat, always remember to wash your hands and use separate utensils and plates for raw and cooked meat.

Children and old people and those with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to food poisoning. To recognise a case of food poisoning, look for the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, a high temperature and loss of appetite.

In milder cases, home treatment is usually enough for food poisoning. Patients must keep themselves hydrated. If the symptoms are especially severe or last for a long time you should seek medical advice.

Do you have any tips for having fun but safe barbecues this summer? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.