Barbecue safely this summer

Caroline Cassidy

After all the inclement weather that spring and early summer has brought us, with any luck it'll soon be time to dust off the barbecue and gather friends and relatives for some al fresco dining.

bbq hygiene
bbq hygiene

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But before you head outside for those sizzling steaks and blackened sausages, it's worth remembering that the BBQ doesn't come without risks.

According to the NHS, food poisoning cases double over the summer and many of those are down to undercooking meat on the barbecue or spreading nasties like salmonella and E.coli from raw meat onto cooked.

Make sure you and your family stay happy and healthy throughout the summer with these barbecue hygiene tips.

Keep it clean
The chances are your barbecue has been weathering everything winter can throw at it so a good clean is probably in order anyway, but if you're planning more than one al fresco meal this summer it's essential to give the grill a proper scrub. A little olive oil sprayed on the grill before those steaks start to sizzle will ensure they don't stick and reduce the risk of burnt food tainting your juicy burger.

Prep and storage
Just as you would for any other meal, keeping raw meat separate is essential if you're to avoid food poisoning. Keep raw meat in a sealed container away from ready-to-eat foods like salads and burger buns, and use separate chopping boards for raw meat and everything else for the same reason.

That might seem like common sense but it's also important to remember that you'll need different utensils for the raw stuff and the fresh-off-the-bbq goodies too. And don't forget to mind those marinades - if it's been used for the raw, don't add it to anything cooked.

Those added extras like dips, salads and cold meats should not be left out in the sun - keep them in a cool place inside the house or in the fridge.

Careful cooking
We've experienced the charred sausage that's dangerously pink inside. Careful cooking is a must for anyone turning their hand to the bbq, and a blackened outer does not mean the meat is safe to eat. Juicy, rare beef or lamb steaks aside, poulty or anything that features minced meat absolutely must be cooked through.

To double check that your bangers and burgers are done, check that there is no pink meat in sight (cut into the thickest part to be certain), the juices run clear and the meat is hot in the middle.

Last but not least, if you're cooking for a large crowd, don't be tempted to speed things up by putting raw meat on the barbecue while half-way through cooking a previous batch. Run the risk of cross-contamination and you could end up suffering.

Heart-Healthy Barbecue Tips
Heart-Healthy Barbecue Tips