Summer is welcomed by many. Outdoor barbecue grills are ideal for family and friends.
However, it is important to adhere to hygienic conditions, since bacteria in food multiply faster in warm weather, leading to foodborne illness.

When planning a barbecue, we must stick to a few basic rules
to ensure that guests will go home feeling pleasantly satisfied.
Foodborne illness is usually mild, and most people get better
within a few days. However, sometimes it can be more severe
and even fatal at times. Therefore, it’s important to take the
risks seriously. Children, older people, and those with weakened
immune systems are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness.
The following are a few simple guidelines can prevent an
unpleasant experience:

5facts food safety
WASH YOUR HANDS
Washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
before, during, and after handling food is the crucial step. If you
are having a barbeque outside, with no access to clean water, take
water and soap with you or use a hand sanitizer.
Apart from cleaning of hands, general cleanliness is essential
because foodborne illness can survive in many places, and
spread in the kitchen. Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and
countertops, with hot, soapy water. Rinse fresh fruits and
vegetables under running water, and rinse in water with some
potassium permanganate or baking soda.

KEEP RAW FOOD SEPARATE FROM COOKED FOOD
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood last in
the shopping list as these are perishable items that need to be
kept cold. Separate these items from other food. To guard against
cross-contamination, it is best to keep raw meat, poultry, and
seafood in a separate cooler or securely wrapped at the bottom
of a cooler, so their juices won’t contaminate ready-to-eat food.
When preparing food, be careful with plates and utensils that
previously held these items of food. These need to be washed
well, or better still, use different ones if possible.

MARINATE FOOD IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Bacteria grow fast at room temperature so one cannot leave
perishable foods outside. Meats taste much better if marinated,
however, to avoid risks, marinate in the refrigerator. One common
mistake is reusing the marinade that contacted raw meat, poultry,
or seafood on cooked food. This is risky as that marinate could
contain microbes.

COOK FOOD THOROUGHLY
Many barbeques are held outside, where lighting may be limited.
It’s best to make sure that chicken and meat are cooked well by
using a food thermometer. Correct temperatures for common
barbecue foods such as chicken and turkey (whole), thighs, wings,
legs, and breasts is 74 °C, minced meat and sausages 71 °C, and
fish 63 °C. Frozen meat should be properly thawed before you
cook it. Turn the meat on the grill regularly and move it around the
barbecue to cook it evenly.
For big chunks of meat, it will be better to precook partially at
home. Some meat, such as steaks and joints of beef, can be served
rare, if the outside has been properly cooked. This will kill any
bacteria that might be on the outside of the meat. However, food
made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers, must be
cooked thoroughly all the way through. Frozen vegetables need to
be cooked properly as well. Read the instructions on packed foods
carefully.

KEEP HOT FOOD HOT AND COLD FOOD COLD
This is an essential rule. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold until
served. Keep cold, perishable food in a cooler until serving time
and keep the coolers out of direct sun. Divide leftovers into small
portions, and place in covered, shallow containers. Put them in the
freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking. Thaw frozen food
safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never
thaw food on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the
parts of the food which reach room temperature. It is best to thaw
in the fridge, in a closed container on bottom shelf.

DR CHARMAINE GAUCI

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine