Advice for consumers on how to cook food safely during barbeque season, especially during this spell of hot weather

Thursday 05 July, 2018. safefood would like to remind you about the four simple steps that can help prevent food poisoning during barbecue season. These steps are especially important given a recent increase in VTEC E. coli infections.

  1. Clean – As with preparing any food, always wash your hands before and after preparing, handling and eating food, after visiting the toilet or after playing with pets or animals.
  2. Cook – make sure that all foods like chicken, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until they are piping hot all the way through, with no pink meat remaining and the juices run clear.
  3. Chill – keep perishable foods like salads, coleslaws and quiches cool to prevent bacteria from growing. And make sure that your fridge is at the correct temperature to keep cold foods cold – it should be at 5°C or below.
  4. Separate to prevent cross-contamination – keep raw and cooked foods separate during storage and cooking and never let raw food, for example raw meat, or utensils used with raw meat come into contact with ready-to-eat foods such as salads.

VTEC E. coli bacteria can cause serious disease in humans with those most at risk being the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and people with an already weakened immune system. The symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea with blood. Usually little or no fever is present. Sometimes the infection causes non-bloody diarrhoea or no symptoms may be present.

If you think you are suffering from food poisoning, you should contact your GP or health professional.

For more information on food safety and healthy eating including recipes, visit our Summer Food section on the website.