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Planning Retirement Online

                                       July 2006

Barbecues - make sure it’s the only bug you catch this summer!

The Big Book of Barbecueing and Grilling: 365 Healthy and Delicious Recipes (Big Book S.)Men in particular are keen to take up the challenge to cater for their family and friends now that the barbecue season has arrived. But with summer temperatures rising and men playing away from home on unfamiliar ground, the odds for food poisoning own goals increase sharply!

The general trend is that food poisoning cases increase over the summer due to warmer weather causing harmful food bugs to grow more easily. It’s also easy to forget about good food hygiene practices when barbecuing outdoors, which would normally be followed in the kitchen – though many men might find this a challenge anywhere, particularly after the customary barbecue liquid refreshments and TV footy distractions!


A UK survey of over 1000 adults found that almost half (45%) of households barbecue at home, with 94% of these planning a barbecue this summer and 69% holding a barbecue to coincide with watching the World Cup. While most men are quite content to let women take responsibility for cooking indoors in around 7 out of 10 of barbecuing households, it appears males (8 out of 10) like to take control when it comes to cooking outdoors!


Drinking alcohol when in charge of the barbecue is a very popular activity amongst males with two-thirds admitting to drinking when cooking. Less than 1 in 10 males claimed never to drink when cooking. Despite this, 98% of men were pretty confident about their ability to barbecue food safely!


With barbecue season kicking off, the Food Standards Agency is again promoting simple but important food hygiene tips for barbecue and football enthusiasts to bear in mind:?


  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before eating.

  • Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria and should be separated from cooked and ready-to-eat food. Do not put raw meats near salad and burger buns.

  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat. Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat.

  • Don't add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat.

  • Barbecued food may look thoroughly cooked when it isn’t. To be sure that it is safe to eat, check that it’s piping hot all the way through and that none of the meat is pink and any juices run clear.

Top chef, Curtis Stone, is backing the Agency’s campaign to help reduce food poisoning. He said: 'British weather permitting, World Cup barbecue parties are sure to be pretty popular over the next month and it’s about the only time of the year when males like to take control of the cooking! But keeping an eye on the football action and knocking back the lager while cooking the sausages might not be the best game plan for ensuring the food is safe and preventing food poisoning!


'Food poisoning is one goal you don’t want to score against your friends and family. If food is not stored, prepared or cooked properly then food bugs like campylobacter, salmonella and E.coli can cause severe illness. But it can be easily avoided if you follow the Food Standards Agency Top Barbecue Tips


Food Standards Agency Top Barbecue Tips

You can reduce the risk of food poisoning by:


Preparing well


  • Light charcoal barbecues well in advance, making sure you use enough charcoal and waiting until it is glowing red (with a powdery grey surface) before starting cooking.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly – before preparing food and after touching raw meat and before eating.

  • Make sure all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces are spotlessly clean before use.

  • Keep pets away from food, dishes and preparation surfaces.

  • Unless the cooking instructions state otherwise, ensure that raw meat is completely defrosted (in the fridge or a microwave) before barbecuing so that it cooks evenly.

Storing safely


  • Always keep cold food cold and hot foods hot to stop bugs multiplying – don’t leave food standing around.

  • Keep raw meats in a separate container to prevent contaminating other foods.

  • Ensure that serving bowls, utensils and cooked and ready to eat food is not accidentally splashed with uncooked meat juices.

  • At the barbecue, only remove the lid of the insulated container when essential and only take out the quantity of meat that will fit on the barbecue.

  • Keep serving bowls, food and utensils covered to protect from dust and insects.

Cooking thoroughly?


  • Make sure you follow any cooking instructions provided.

  • Turn food regularly and make sure burgers, sausages and chicken are cooked until they are piping hot throughout, there is no pinkness inside, and the juices run clear.

  • If you reheat food make sure it is piping hot throughout.

Observing good hygiene


  • Always keep raw meats separate from other food even when cooking.

  • Always use separate utensils for transferring the raw meat and handling the cooked meat.

  • Never put cooked food on plates that held raw meat.

  • Clean all cooking and eating utensils and work surfaces after use.

  • Throw away barbecued food left out for more than two hours in very hot weather.

Never part-cook on a barbecue and finish cooking later. However, you can fully cook meat and chicken at home, keep it chilled, and then barbecue it to add flavour. This is the ideal way to avoid undercooking your chicken portions on the barbecue.



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