It’s not surprising that party guests who develop Salmonella or E. coli food poisoning take all the fun out of your Sunday barbecue. After all, you’ve probably gone to great lengths to mow the lawn, spruce up the patio and select the finest meats for a delightful meal. Don’t ruin what could be a wonderful gathering by forgetting food safety while barbecuing.
Preventing Foodborne Illnesses
As the official grill master at the next picnic, outdoor party or cookout, it’s up to you to see that food safety is considered at all times. This is a primary concern to see that you and your guests have an enjoyable time and don’t experience food poisoning first hand.
• Keep your hands clean with soap and water before handling any barbecue foods such as chicken, meat, pork or fish. Common sense also dictates, you should wash after petting animals and using bathroom facilities.
• Undoubtedly, you’ll be cutting up a variety of foods beside the grilling meats for your cookout. So, make sure to wash up all your knives, cutting boards and any utensils after cutting up each type of food to prevent cross contamination.
• Pack a cooler when transporting perishables to an outdoor picnic or party for preventing bacterial growth.
• Keep perishables in a separate cooler from drinks that’s not opened frequently to assure meats stay cold.
• Slip pre-grilled foods or cold foods into a refrigerator at your destination if cooler transport isn’t an option.
• Smart chefs know that all vegetables and fruits should be thoroughly washed before placing them in a cooler with ice to prevent cross-contamination.
Grilling Safety tips
• When selecting prime cuts at the meat market, check sell by or expiration dates. Don’t by packages with broken seals or those that contain meat that looks a sickly gray. It’s probably already bad!
• After purchasing fish, poultry or meat, plan to grill it within one or two days for maximum freshness and safety. Regardless of how much fun you’re having at the picnic, make sure grilled leftovers hit the refrigerator or ice cooler within 2 hours.
• Marinated meats do taste wonderful, but make sure you follow these simple rules. Always marinade meat in a refrigerator and not on the counter in a warm kitchen.
• Pre-cooking foods on the stove or in a microwave saves grilling time. However, you should always make sure you toss them on a hot grill right away to reduce chances of spoiling.
• As the grill master, you’re obligated to see foods cooked on the grill don’t develop bacteria by cooking them thoroughly or to acceptable temperatures. Ideally, chicken should reach 165°F, hamburgers and meats 160°F and fish should flake apart.
• Use a clean serving dish when removing grilled foods from the grill. You don’t want to set freshly grilled meat on the plate that previously contained raw meat.
• Although, your primary focus may be grilling, there is still a good chance you’re in charge of all the fabulous side dishes for the cookout like, desserts, chicken salad, devilled eggs and dips. Make sure all the cold foods are kept well chilled to 40°F or lower.
Common Sources of Food Poisoning
In reality, all types of food can be contaminated depending upon how it is cooked or handled. However, some foods do carry a higher risk of contamination such as shellfish, raw fish, dairy products, eggs, poultry and red meats.
Effects of Food Poisoning
The truth is, food poisoning symptoms are pretty nasty. If food becomes contaminated or is not handled properly, you could find yourself or guests suffering from diarrhea, chills, fever, abdominal cramps, and headaches or vomiting.
Typically, pregnant women, elderly folks and younger children may have severe or life-threatening symptoms after eating barbecue that’s been improperly handled.
Taking a few safety precautions when throwing outdoor parties takes a little more planning, but it helps you to maintain your status as the best grilling chef in the neighborhood.