Sizzling tips for safe barbecues

A barbecue is a perfect excuse to get together with family and friends and relax in the sunshine and light nights

But before you grab the tongs and turn up the heat, please remember to take extra care when cooking and preparing food to avoid food poisoning and any accidents involving nasty burns. 

More than 500,000 cases of food poisoning occur each year in the UK - salmonella being one of the main causes of hospital admissions.

Food poisoning almost doubles over the summer months. It is caused by eating food contaminated by bacteria, such as salmonella or Escherichia coli (E. coli), or a virus, such as norovirus.

Food poisoning is usually mild, and for most people they are better within a week. But there are times when it can be more severe, so it's important to take the risks seriously. Children, older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.

What you can do to avoid food poisoning:

Firstly, make sure you have good hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before serving and eating. This helps stop cross-contamination.

Unless the cooking instructions say otherwise, always ensure that frozen food is defrosted before cooking so that it cooks evenly.

Raw and cooked meats should always be separate from each other, as well as uncooked meat, fish and vegetables during preparation.

Check burgers, sausages and chicken are well cooked by either cutting open or using a meat thermometer. In the hot weather, throw away food that’s been left out for more than an hour.

Never part cook on a barbeque and finish off later

Remember that barbeques can  be dangerous and can cause nasty burns, so make sure children and older people are kept away from the hot grills.

Most cases of food poisoning can be treated at home with over the counter medicines, rest and plenty of liquids to keep hydrated. But, if you are worried about your symptoms and need advice, talk to your local pharmacy. If you have severe vomiting and / or diarrhoea call NHS 111 - available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An advisor will direct you to the best medical care for you.

Find more information on how to enjoy a safe barbecue here