Northern Health BBQ Safety Tips

Tips to barbecue a safe, delicious grilled meal

A tasty meal on the barbecue is a great way to enjoy nice weather this summer with friends and family. But if backyard chefs aren’t careful, food poisoning could become an uninvited guest. Common bacteria in meat can turn your grilled meal into a painful one with symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting from E. coli (hamburger disease) and salmonella poisoning. Hamburger disease can even lead to kidney failure.

Help make your next barbecue safe and enjoyable by following these simple tips.

Before you barbecue:

* When shopping, buy meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Refrigerate or freeze that meat as soon as possible after buying.

* Thaw and marinate meat in the fridge, not on the counter.

* Completely defrost your meat before grilling so it cooks evenly.

* Thoroughly wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before preparing any food, after handling raw meat, and after using the toilet.

* Don’t use the same utensils and platters for both raw and cooked meat. Disinfect all utensils, cutting boards and counters (use a solution of 5 ml of bleach to one litre of water) to prevent bacteria from raw meats contaminating other foods.

During grilling:

* Thoroughly cook the outside of all solid cuts of meats (steaks, roasts, chops, etc.)

* Cook ground beef (hamburger patties, meat loaf, etc.) until the juices run clear and the middle of the patty reaches at least 71º C (155º F) for a minimum of 15 seconds.

* Thoroughly cook poultry so that the middle of the thickest piece of meat reaches at least 74º C (165º F) for 15 seconds or longer. Juices should run clear with meat pulling easily from the bone. The meat should not be rubbery.

* Serve cooked meat right away, or keep it hot (above 140º F or 60º C) until ready to serve.

* Refrigerate leftovers right away. Throw out any food left out for more than two hours.

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