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How to stay food safe when cooking food at a barbecue

Food poisoning can be avoided by following good food hygiene practices, such as washing your hands, cooking meat properly, and avoiding cross-contamination.

Follow these tips to stay food safe when barbecuing:

BBQ Preparation

  • Wash your hands and clean your utensils and surfaces before starting
  • Clean your BBQ down
  • Keep food covered and chilled until you are ready to cook on the BBQ
  • Plan ahead and defrost any frozen food overnight in the fridge.

Safe practices – avoiding cross-contamination

  • Store raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods
  • Use different utensils (tongs, spoons etc), plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food and ready-to-eat foods such as salads, coleslaw etc
  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat and before you handle ready-to-eat food
  • Safe cooking
  • If cooking on a charcoal BBQ, make sure the coals are hot enough before you start cooking. They should be glowing red with a grey, powdery surface.
  • Cook meat in the oven first and then finish off on BBQ to save time and ensure it is fully cooked
  • Turn your meat regularly on the grill and move it around to make sure it’s evenly cooked on all sides. 
  • Try and keep raw meat away from cooked meat on the grill.

Before serving chicken, pork, sausages and burgers that you’ve cooked on the barbecue, always check that:

  • The meat is steaming hot throughout
  • There is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part
  • Meat juices run clear.

Safe Leftovers

  • Cover and cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature and place in a fridge or cool bag within 2hrs.
  • You should look to consume the leftovers from your barbecue within 48 hours. 
  • If you’re reheating anything, only reheat it once and make sure it’s steaming hot before serving.

For further information see the Food Standard Agency’s useful page on BBQ Food Safety