Summer is now here and what better way is there to enjoy some fun in the sun than a summer barbecue (BBQ) with friends, colleagues and/or family? As with any type of cooking, it is important to follow safe food handling procedures to prevent harmful bacteria from ruining outdoor spreads. As residents continue to head outdoors to enjoy their summers, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and myself would like to provide a reminder to home-chefs of some of the food safety challenges that cooking on their grills may present.
Here are some important food safety tips to remember when BBQing:
- Wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before preparing food and/or when changing tasks.
- Clean and sanitize utensils, cooking equipment and work surfaces with hot water and soap. Always make sure to use separate utensils for raw and cooked products. So remember – when putting chicken on the grill; be sure to use a new, clean utensil to take it off!
- Make sure to keep raw meat away from other foods, including garnish like lettuce and tomatoes. If heading over to a friend’s place for a BBQ, pack raw meats separately from other food items.
- Use separate utensils (e.g. spatula, tongs) and cutting boards to prepare raw meats, cooked meats and fruits/ vegetables.
- Always cover food items to protect from cross contamination by food, humans and/or insects. No extra protein needed!
- Are the burgers frozen? Thaw foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or microwave (if the food item is placed immediately on the grill). Meat should be completely thawed before grilling so that it cooks more evenly.
- Keep cold foods cold at 4°C/40°F or lower by placing the items in a cooler full of ice or on a platter that is full of ice.
- Bacteria such as Coli and Salmonella are killed by heat. Raw meat must be cooked properly and to a safe internal temperature to avoid the risk of food borne illness.
- Use a probe thermometer to ensure that food has reached the proper temperature before eating.
- Place the probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. It is important not to rely on the colour of the food or juices as an indicator that meat is safe to eat.
For a full list of cooking temperatures, consult this handy chart.
Serving Food and Leftovers
- Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill. Do not put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat.
- Cool food using shallow containers, or ice baths. Discard any food that is left out for more than 2 hours.
For more information about food safety, please visit http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/healthy-living/food-safety.
I hope that all residents have a safe and delicious summer!