Britain is a BBQ loving nation, 2020 saw 190 million BBQs across the UK — equating to 3 per person! With temperatures set to soar this week to as high as 35°C, many will be firing up the grill.

However, there are an estimated 2.4 million cases of food poisoning every year in the UK, and the Food Standards Agency reveals numbers often rise in summer months. 

Therefore, experts at End of Tenancy Cleaning have shared their tips to avoid food poisoning at your BBQ.

BBQ Food Poisoning

1. Not washing your hands

If you’re preparing any food, you should always wash your hands with soap and water beforehand. This is especially true when barbecuing as often you’ll be handling raw meats, which can contain E. coli, salmonella,and listeria among other dangerous bacteria. 

A simple rinse won’t cut it either, to properly prevent any harmful germs, ensure you’re washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

2. Not cleaning grill equipment properly 

Many people don’t worry too much about cleaning their BBQs before firing them up, however, a study found that outdoor grills have 124% more germs than the surface of a toilet seat, with 1.7 million microbes per 100 cm sq so it’s important to avoid BBQ Food Poisoning.

Therefore, it’s vital to ensure any equipment is clean before cooking on it. One option for smaller BBQs is to remove any racks and put them in the dishwasher — making for a quick and easy clean. If this isn’t possible, baking soda is a great option to get your grill sparkling. Simply rub on to your BBQ and let it work its magic, after 10 minutes scrub away with warm water. 

3. Using the same plates for raw and cooked food 

Another common mistake when BBQing is to use the same plates for raw and cooked meat. It’s essential to keep these searated and so try to allocate crockery for each type so’s to avoid BBQ Food Poisoning.

The same goes for cooking utensils, ensure you have a separate set of tools to cook and serve with to avoid any risk of cross contamination. 

4. Not storing meat properly before cooking

While it can be tempting to get any meat out of the fridge and leave it to one side while you prep the grill, this can be very risky. Leaving meat out of the fridge, especially in hot weather, can lead to dangerous levels of bacteria growing and increase the chances of BBQ Food Poisoning

Make sure you only remove meat from the fridge when you’re ready to start cooking. If you’re looking for a convenient method to keep it close by, opt for a cool box with plenty of ice — but be sure not to store it alongside cooked or prepared foods. 

5. Not covering food 

Sides are often a big part of any BBQ, from coleslaw and potato salad to dips like guacamole and houmous — but these often get placed on a table and left for many hours, sometimes in the heat.

It’s important not to neglect any food left on the side, make sure it’s covered where possible to prevent germs and attract insects. Alongside this, try to leave any prepared food in the shade, or only put out small amounts at a time. 

6. Defrosting meat in the microwave 

While it can be tempting to use your microwave to defrost meat — this isn’t the safest option when it comes to food safety. If you have time, it’s much better to defrost meat in your fridge where it will remain at a constant, controlled temperature. 

Using a microwave often leads to food being defrosted on the outside, while still frozen in the middle. Leaving food to defrost on countertops also isn’t advisable as it can become too warm, leading to dangerous levels of bacteria growing and increased risk of BBQ Food Poisoning.

7. Not using a thermometer

Certain foods such as meat, fish and eggs need to be cooked to a specific temperature in order to eliminate harmful bacteria and parasites. However, it can be difficult to judge how well cooked food is prior to serving. 

While you can cut into meat and fish to check if it’s ‘done’, a better alternative is to use a cooking thermometer. Always research how hot specific foods should be when cooked and check before serving. 

8. Crowding the BBQ 

If you want your food to cook through evenly, then it’s important to ensure you haven’t crowded the grill space. Putting too much food on at once will not only lead to much slower cooking times but could also result in undercooked meat. 

While it may be difficult to believe, cooking large amounts of food in several batches will be far quicker — and safer — than crowding your grill.

9. Using a old chopping board

Many chopping boards will see wear and tear through use, but if your chopping board has become difficult to clean due to grooves, cuts or cracks — it’s time to throw it out. 

If you’re using a wooden chopping board, ensure you oil it regularly to keep it water resistant and avoid any cracks. For plastic chopping boards, make sure you’re washing these at a high temperature to remove any harmful bacteria. 

10. Not preheating the grill

Once you’re ready to start cooking, it’s vital not to skip the pre-heat stage. If you place your food on before your grill is thoroughly heated, this can lead to meat which is raw on the inside and overcooked on the outside. 

Not only this, but preheating your BBQ can help to remove any harmful bacteria from the grill before you begin. 

Gas grills should be left for 10-15 minutes to heat up, while for charcoal and disposable BBQs, you should wait until the coals have turned white/grey and and the flames have died down. 

11. Reusing marinade 

Marinades are a great way to give food more flavour, but if you’re using these for raw meat then make sure you don’t reuse them for anything else. Putting marinade onto raw vegetables or using it as a sauce can be dangerous once the marinade has touched raw meat, as it may be  harbouring harmful bacteria. 

If you want to use marinade for both raw meat and other foods, make separate batches in advance to avoid cross contamination. If you really don’t want to waste leftover marinade you can reuse it — but only if you boil it first to kill any bacteria. 

12. Not using oil 

When cooking food on a BBQ, it’s not uncommon for it to stick to plates and racks. While this may seem like just an inconvenience, it can be unsafe too. Raw meat, fish and other ingredients that stick to the grill can later become a hotspot for bacteria. 

Oiling your grill will prevent this from happening, making for a safer and easier BBQ experience. When selecting an oil make sure to pick one with a high smoke point such as sunflower, avocado or rapeseed oil. Avoid those with lower smoke points, such as olive oil. 

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