You can’t beat a bit of back-to-basics barbecuing – you, your friends and the great outdoors – but in these sterile times our stomachs just can’t handle a rough and ready approach to food hygiene. You don’t need to be too precious but if you follow a few basic rules, you can be sure your guests will go home feeling pleasantly satisfied not peaky.
1. Keep all your perishable ingredients in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. Often with a barbecue people are grazing over a period of time so you want to avoid taking food out before it’s necessary.
2. All frozen meat should be thoroughly thawed out before you put it on the barbecue, otherwise it may appear to be cooked on the outside but will be raw on the inside.
3. Wash your hands before handling food to avoid any cross-contamination. If you touch raw meat or fish, wash your hands before touching ready-to-eat foods and do not put ready-to-eat foods on plates that have been used to carry raw meat or fish. You also want to avoid using any utensils for both raw and ready-to-eat foods.
4. Make sure your barbecue is hot enough before you start and turn your meat during cooking time so that it cooks evenly throughout.
5. For extra safety, ensure all meat, particularly chicken, pork, sausages and burgers is cooked throughout. You can be less concerned with steaks and lamb chops. Ensure fish is cooked throughout too.
6. Watch out for dripping meat and fish juices, avoid trailing raw meat or fish over cooked and do not use leftover marinade as a sauce.
7. Don’t leave food out in direct sunlight, pick a shady spot or indoors for your buffet table. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours. The safest option is often to throw away leftovers.
8. If you are planning to be serving food over the course of an afternoon, put salads, meats and other perishable foods out in batches in fresh bowls.
9. Keep desserts in the fridge until the main course is over, again avoiding unnecessary time standing around.
10. Barbecues can be dangerous so take a look at the Fire Service advice to ensure you and your family and friends stay safe.