Word on Health

Word on Barbecue Health

Statistics show whilst a great many of us enjoy eating ‘al fresco’ from June to September, with not even the Great British weather putting us off - sadly, too many of us don’t’ adhere to what’s been termed the ‘barbecue code’. It therefore might not surprise you to learn that the barbecue season also coincides with the rise in the cases of food poisoning. Occasionally, food poisoning can be very serious and even cause death. So it’s important to prevent food poisoning with good food hygiene.

  • Before you start - wash your hands! 
  • Make sure frozen food is properly thawed before attempting to cook it.
  • Wash all meats, fish, fruit, vegetables and fruit thoroughly.
  • Don't take food out of the fridge until the last minute and use a cool bag to keep it chilled until you're ready to eat. It's especially important with meat, poultry and food containing cream, such as trifle, cream cakes and desserts.
  • Ensure chopping boards, cooking implements and work surfaces are clean. Be aware of the dangers of cross contamination - if you are preparing different meats, poultry and fish, salads et al ensure you thoroughly clean chopping boards and works surfaces everytime you prepare a different meat, fish or salad and wash your hands at the same time.
  • When cooking - Wait until the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook.
  • Take your time cooking - don't place items too close to the coals and turn the food regularly, and move it around the barbecue, to cook it evenly. 
  • Always make sure you cook chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs until they're piping hot all the way through, none of the meat is pink and any juices run clear.
  • Don't assume that if meat is charred on the outside that it will be cooked properly on the inside.
  • If you're barbecuing for lots of people, you could cook meat indoors and finish it off on the barbecue for added flavour.
  • But remember - when you reheat food on the barbecue, always make sure it's piping hot all the way through before serving.
  • When you're eating outdoors you should also remember to keep food covered whenever possible – this is to protect it from insects, birds and pets, which can carry bacteria.
Many people have had first-hand experience of how unpleasant food poisoning can be, even for a fit and healthy person. And sometimes food poisoning can cause serious illness. The symptoms of food poisoning can vary, depending on what has caused it.  Common symptoms include:
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhoea
  • fever (sometimes but not always)

What should I do?  There are three main things to consider when you have food poisoning:

Rehydration – drink plenty of fluids and perhaps use rehydration powders available from pharmacies

Medical assistance – if you are concerned about your health or the health of someone else, contact your GP for advice (especially in the case of pregnant women, elderly people, children and people who are already ill).

Reporting – if you think that your illness was caused by food prepared outside the home, report the incident to your local environmental health service.

Why is it important to report food poisoning?  If you think your illness has been caused by food from a restaurant or other food business, the local environmental health department needs to know so it can investigate the business in question. If the environmental health officers find a problem with the business's food hygiene practices, and get the business to improve them, this could help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.