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How to barbecue safely

How to barbecue safely

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Follow our top 10 tips for how to cook food properly on the barbecue, in order to minimise the risk of food poisoning and injury. We've got all the advice you need for a fuss-free barbecue.

You can't beat a bit of back-to-basics barbecuing (you, your friends and the great outdoors – it's the dream), but in these sterile times our stomachs 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 instead of peaky.

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Once you know how to play it safe, fire up the grills and take inspiration from our collection of barbecue recipes. You can also find some of our tried-and-tested favourite bits of kit for barbecuing below, including picks of the best barbecue gadgets, best gas barbecues and best charcoal barbecues on test.

Top 10 tips for cooking safely on the barbecue

1. Store perishable food in the fridge before serving

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. Thaw all frozen meat

All frozen meat should be thoroughly thawed out before you put it on the barbecue, otherwise it may look cooked on the outside but will be raw on the inside.

Burgers being cooked on a barbecue

3. Wash your hands before touching raw food

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. Get your barbecue temperature high enough before cooking

Make sure your barbecue is hot enough before you start and turn your meat during cooking time so that it cooks evenly throughout.

5. Ensure all meat is cooked through

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. Avoid dripping raw meat and fish juices over cooked food

Watch out for dripping meat and fish juices. Avoid trailing raw meat or fish over cooked food and do not use leftover marinade as a sauce.

A selection of barbecue food on a table, reading for eating

7. Don' t leave food out for too long, or in direct sunlight

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. Serve perishable food in batches

If you're planning to serve food over the course of an afternoon, put salads, meats and other perishable foods out in batches in fresh bowls.

9. Store desserts in the fridge until serving

Keep desserts in the fridge until the main course is over, again avoiding unnecessary time sitting around.

10. Check official safety advice for barbecuing to avoid injury

Barbecues can be dangerous, so take a look at the Fire Service advice to ensure you and your family and friends stay safe. Also follow our guide on how to light a BBQ for step-by-step info on the right technique, making sure your coals are ready and testing the barbecue temperature.

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