safefood reminds consumers of the steps to safe barbecues

Research reveals that 2 out of 3 people do not check that barbecued burgers and chicken are cooked all the way through

24 July, 2009. safefood is encouraging consumers to think about food safety when cooking food on barbecues over the summer months. This reminder comes as research reveals that 67% of those surveyed did not mention cutting into the centre of burgers, sausages or chicken to check that they were properly cooked [1]. The survey also showed that three out of four did not mention that they would ensure that there was no pink meat left or that the juices run clear. Only 5% indicated that they would check that these barbecued foods were piping hot all the way through. These are the essential steps that need to be followed to ensure these meats are properly cooked and to prevent food poisoning.

Dr. Gary Kearney, Director Food Science safefood explains, “With the summer months upon us, more of us are thinking about cooking on barbecues. And while we can’t ensure good weather all the time, we can take measures to guarantee good food safety when having a barbecue. It is important that meat which has been minced or skewered, such as burgers, sausages and kebabs, is cooked thoroughly and never served rare or pink in the middle. When meat is chopped or minced, any bacteria present on the outside are moved around and into the centre of the food. These meats must be cooked thoroughly until piping hot all the way through, the juices run clear and until there is no pink meat left. All poultry and pork must also be cooked thoroughly all the way through”.

There are three ways to check that meat is cooked thoroughly:

  1. Meat changes colour when it is cooked; make sure that there is no pink meat left 
  2. Check the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the meat with a fork or skewer 
  3. Cut the meat open with a clean knife to check that it is piping hot all the way through; it should be steaming

Some tips from safefood for cooking on the barbecue this summer are:

  • Light the barbecue well in advance. Make sure it’s very hot and that the flames have died down before you start to cook
  • As with any food preparation, make sure to wash your hands before and after handling food
  • Be sure that frozen food is fully thawed, preferably in the fridge, before you cook it
  • Keep raw meats and poultry cool in the fridge or iced cool-box until needed. Keep raw meats separated from cooked meats and ready-to-eat foods
  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat
  • Never put cooked food on a dish that has been used for raw meat (unless it has been washed thoroughly). Keep raw meats and poultry cool in the fridge or iced cool-box until needed
  • Turn food regularly and move it around the barbecue to ensure it is evenly cooked
  • Just because the meat turns crisp and brown on the outside, don’t assume it’s properly cooked inside
  • Don’t put raw meat next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue
  • Make sure any marinade used on raw meat is not used to coat vegetables or cooked meat
  • Remember if you are barbecuing for lots of people, you could cook food indoors and just finish it off on the barbecue

For more tips on safe barbecue cooking and a free leaflet, call the safefood helpline on 0800 085 1683



For further information please contact

Sarah Young / Sarah Eakin at Smarts Telephone: 028 9039 5511/ 028 9039 5521 Email: /


[1] safefood Safetrak 10 (safefood, Millward Brown IMS)