Food safety - How to barbecue safely
Our Food Safety and Food Standards teams want you to stay safe while barbecuing this summer.
If you want to serve up a sensational barbecue that also helps keep your family and friends safe, take the following simple steps to avoid food poisoning bugs.
Pre-cook - consider cooking all chicken and pork in the oven prior to giving it a final ‘finish’ on your barbecue where possible. Your friends and family will still experience that special barbecue ‘chargrilled’ taste – and you will know that you’ve cooked the chicken all the way through. This technique can also be used for sausages, burgers and kebabs if you’re cooking for large numbers.
Don’t eat rare burgers. Burgers served less than fully cooked can remain contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli. Burgers are not like steak or other whole cuts of beef and lamb; harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat will be spread all the way through the burger when the meat is minced. These bacteria inside will not be killed if all parts of the burger aren’t fully cooked. Burgers should not be served rare or pink if being prepared at home; they should always be cooked all the way through until steaming hot.
Charred on the outside doesn’t mean cooked on the inside. Cut open and check your burgers, sausages and chicken. Turning meat regularly and moving it around on the barbecue will also help to cook it evenly. If in doubt, keep cooking. Remember that most types of meat are safe to eat only when:
- the meat is steaming hot throughout;
- there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part;
- any juices run clear.
Disposable BBQs take longer to heat up and to cook food. Don’t overload the barbecue and always check that your meat is cooked thoroughly.
When you’re cooking most types of meat on a barbecue, such as poultry, pork, burgers or sausages, make sure:
- the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means they’re hot enough;
- frozen meat is properly thawed before you cook it;
- you turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.
Avoid cross-contamination - store raw meat separately before cooking. Use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and dry them before and after handling food.
Keep plates and cutlery away from raw meat and fish and never reuse a marinade used on raw meat, unless you give it a thorough cook first. You’ll only be serving up bugs along with that extra flavour to your guests!
Keep cold foods below 5°C and hot foods above 63°C and don’t leave food that you would store refrigerated standing around in the warm, before serving.
For your definitive guide to safe summer food, go to https://www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology/your-definitive-guide-to-safe-summer-food.