You can seldom find a person who doesn’t love barbeque. The best thing about BBQ is that anyone can do it: all you need is highly priced or inexpensive cuts of meat, some basic equipment and … patience.
Barbecue is good all year round, but it’s really great when the weather starts to get warm. To enjoy it at full blast, it’s important to follow safe food handling guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading and causing foodborne illness. Here are some safety tips:
it’s better to buy meat at the end of your shopping to shorten the time when the meat is out of cold environment. For longer transport times, consider bringing along an insulated cooler to hold your perishables. Because raw meat may contain harmful bacteria, it should be put it in separate plastic bags to avoid cross-contamination.
put raw meat in the refrigerator immediately after you return home. Freeze meat or poultry that won’t be used within 1-3 days.
make sure that the cooler is kept cold with ice packs. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and avoid opening it too often. Ensure that your meat products are well sealed and that ice water doesn’t come in contact with stored meat products. Using two coolers, one for drinks (as it may get opened more often) and another one for food, is a good idea.
Because bacteria can grow very fast (as little as two hours) at the temperature between 4°C and 60°C, your food can become dangerous. Therefore:
- keep raw meat away from other foods
- use separate utensils, cutting boards, dishes and other cooking equipment when handling raw and cooked meats
- never use leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat on cooked food
- do not place cooked meat on the same plate used to bring the raw meat to the BBQ
- Wash your hands carefully with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat
- Clean thoroughly all your cooking equipment, utensils and work surfaces, and then sanitize them with a mild bleach solution
should be done in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Sealed packages can be thawed in cold water. Microwave defrosting is acceptable if the food item is placed immediately on the grill. Meat should be completely thawed before grilling so that it cooks more evenly.
Raw meat must be cooked properly to a safe internal temperature to kill bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Make sure to check each piece of meat or patty because heat can be uneven. Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat because meat can turn brown before all the bacteria are killed. Always clean your digital food thermometer with soap.
On hot summer days, don’t keep food at room temperature for more than one hour.