Summer is here and that means barbecue season is in full swing. Whether you run a food truck, pub, or restaurant that offers barbecue food, you want to make sure your customers enjoy your delicious grilled dishes without any risk of food poisoning or injury.
Barbecuing food can be tricky, as you have to deal with high temperatures, open flames, raw meat, and variable weather conditions. You also have to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations and standards that apply to your type of food business.
A barbecue can reach temperatures of 260 degrees – this makes them very hot and potentially dangerous.
To help you barbecue safely and successfully as a food seller, we have compiled some of the best tips and advice. Follow these guidelines and you will be able to serve up tasty and safe barbecue food to your customers.
Before the barbecue
- Check your barbecue equipment and make sure it is clean and in good working order. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the correct start-up and shut-down procedures.
- Store your perishable food in the fridge or a cooler until you are ready to cook it. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat food and use different containers and utensils for each.
- Thaw your frozen meat completely before putting it on the grill. You can do this in the fridge or microwave, but not at room temperature.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling food. Use disposable gloves if possible and change them frequently.
- Prepare your marinades and sauces in advance and keep them refrigerated until needed. Do not reuse marinades or sauces that have been in contact with raw meat.
During the barbecue
- Make sure your barbecue is hot enough before you start cooking. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the grill and the meat. You can also use visual cues such as clear juices, no pink meat, and charred marks.
- Cook your meat thoroughly and evenly. Turn it frequently and move it around the grill to avoid burning or undercooking. Cut into the thickest part of the meat to check it’s cooked.
- Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat away from cooked meat and ready-to-eat food. Use different plates, utensils, and chopping boards for each. Clean any surfaces or equipment that have touched raw meat with hot soapy water.
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Use warming racks or insulated containers to keep cooked food warm until serving. Use fridges, ice packs or freeze boxes to keep cold food chilled until serving.
- Serve your food as soon as possible after cooking. Do not leave it out in direct sunlight for more than two hours. Discard any food that has been left out for too long or has been contaminated by insects or animals.
- To comply with food security rules, food should not be left unattended. This is even more important when barbecuing given the extreme heat, and often cooking in close proximity to customers.
While not directly related to the dangers of BBQs themselves, improper handling and preparation of food during BBQs can lead to foodborne illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, foodborne illnesses affect around 600 million people each year, resulting in 420,000 deaths.
After the barbecue
- Store any leftover food in airtight containers and refrigerate or freeze within two hours of cooking. Reheat leftovers thoroughly before eating and do not reheat more than once.
- Clean your barbecue equipment and utensils thoroughly with hot soapy water. Dispose of any ashes or coals safely and make sure they are completely cool before discarding.
- Wash your hands again with soap and water after handling any leftover food or waste.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your barbecue food is safe, delicious, and satisfying for your customers. You can also avoid any potential fines or penalties for breaching food safety regulations.