The food and salads - are numerous, enticing and delicious. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the stage is set for a great BBQ party! Good barbecue, good company and good beer can make an unforgettable day. However, if you fail to cook your meat perfectly, chances are high to turn things upside down.
The number of cases of food poisoning from barbecued food has increased dramatically over the past few years, say health experts. The recent announcement of the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has grabbed the attention of the barbecue meat lovers across the globe. The authorities urged the people to pre-cook meat or poultry in the oven before putting it on the grill.
Advertisement"Food poisoning is a real risk at barbecues and so we are reminding people to take good care of their families and friends by paying attention to simple food safety rules. We urge people to pre-cook meat or poultry in the oven before barbecuing," said FSA chief executive Catherine Brown.
The officials say, they are forced to make such a recommendation. They said that "charred doesn't mean cooked", that meat should be steaming hot throughout - not pink - and any juices should run clear.
People keep at least one habit that risks the health of their guests, such as not keeping raw and cooked food separately or not washing hands with soap after handling raw meat.
Also, some people use the same tongs for raw and cooked meats, rising cross contamination and the transfer of bacteria such as campylobacter which causes food poisoning.
Food poisoning can have serious effects on a person. Campylobacter bacteria, usually transmitted in contaminated food or water, can infect the gastrointestinal tract and cause diarrhea, fever, and cramps.
Top tips for a successful barbecue
· Light your barbecue well in advance of using it - at least 30 minutes.
· For gas BBQs make sure its nice and hot before use.
· Make sure you use enough charcoal.
· Wait until its glowing red with a powdery grey surface before starting to cook. The flames in the bbq should have died down.
· Turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.
· Ensure your cooking times are right - they depend on the cut/size of meat and how you like it to be cooked.
· Make sure you use the correct tools including BBQ forks and tongs.
· Defrost frozen meat safely overnight in the fridge.
· Ensure you have separate barbecue utensils, boards and plates for raw and cooked meats and keep them separate.
· Always wash your hands thoroughly - before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before eating!
· Ensure all sausages and burgers are thoroughly cooked before serving and eating - juices should run clear.
· Why not use a digital temperature probe to ensure your meat is cooked?
· Marinate your meat! Marinating adds extra flavour and keeps the meat moist during cooking on the BBQ.
· Use top quality meat - steak that is matured and much more succulent and tender.
You can also use the blunt end of your tongs to prod the meat in the thickest part. With practice you can judge the meat's readiness by touch.
1. Rare - the inside colour is a deep red and is very moist with red juices. Lamb feels soft to touch.
2. Medium Rare - the inside colour is light red and is moist with pink juices. Lamb feels soft and springy to touch.
3. Medium - the inside colour is pink and the lamb is moist with clear juices. Feels firm and slightly spongy to touch.
4. Well done - the inside colour is a light grey and juices are either clear or there is no sign of juices. Feels firm to touch.