Research reveals that 40% of food cooked on the barbecue contains harmful bacteria

As temperatures rise, safefood urges consumers to practice food safety this summer

31 May, 2007. safefood is urging consumers to be extra vigilant when cooking meats on the barbecue that have been minced, skewered or rolled such as burgers, sausages and kebabs. These types of meats should be cooked thoroughly and never served rare or pink in the middle either from the barbecue or more traditional cooking methods.

Research¹ has revealed that 50% of burgers cooked in the home were not cooked properly and 40% of foods cooked at barbecues contained harmful bacteria.

With whole cuts of meat, such as steak, the harmful bacteria only live on the outside and will be killed once cooked, but when meat is chopped or minced, the bacteria are moved around and into the centre of the food. To avoid food poisoning, these meats must be cooked thoroughly until piping hot all the way through.

Speaking earlier today, Dr Thomas Quigley, Director of Food Science, safefood said, “To minimise the risk of food poisoning, minced, skewered or rolled meats must be cooked all the way through. To check meat is cooked all the way through, cut into the middle with a clean knife and check it is piping hot in the centre. Meat changes colour when cooked, so check there is no pink meat left in the centre and check that the juices run clear.”

safefood advises consumers that when preparing to barbecue or dine alfresco, a little bit of forward planning can go a long way:

When eating outdoors, food is away from the refrigerator for a longer period of time, therefore food can reach higher temperatures than normal.  When stored in the fridge, food is usually kept at a temperature lower than 5oC, however, once out of the fridge germs can multiply rapidly in temperatures of 5oC to 63oC.  With this in mind, it is important to keep perishable food, such as quiches and salads in the fridge until needed.

When cooking meat on the barbecue it is important to turn the meat regularly to ensure it is cooked evenly. Make sure that any marinade used on raw meat is not used to coat vegetables or cooked meat.  Once the meat is cooked, make sure to keep cooked meat separate from raw meat and to use separate cooking utensils and plates.  Harmful pathogens in raw meat, poultry and their juices can cross contaminate cooked food and lead to food poisoning.

If there are leftovers from the barbecue,  allow the food to cool before refrigerating, however make sure to refrigerate food as quickly as possible after cooking – within two hours. 

Further food safety advice for consumers is available by calling the safefood helpline 1850 40 45 67/ 0800 085 1683 or visiting the safefood website at

For further information please contact

Kate Slattery or Niamh Burdett or   
Tel: 01 6690030  

Fiona Gilligan
Tel: 01 4480060

Griffith, C. and E. Redmond (2001). “Evaluating hygiene behaviour in the domestic setting and the Impact of Hygiene Education.” Journal of Infection 43 (1): 70-74