Absolutely anyone could fall victim to food poisoning, however some are more vulnerable than others. Those with heightened risk include young children, pregnant women, elderly people or people with chronic diseases.
What can be done to reduce the threat of food poisoning?
When arranging your outdoor meal, there are steps you can take to ensure your food stays safe.
Store raw meats separately from cooked produce to avoid the juices contaminating other food while they begin to defrost. Keep your meat in the cooler until you’re ready to cook it.
Prepare any produce that needs slicing or cutting before storing them for transport. This creates less need to handle the items while outdoors, reducing contact and risk.
All food should be kept cool through the use of ice packs or cooler boxes. If any frozen items need to thaw before use, do this inside, using a refrigerator, rather than leaving the produce outside where it can be mishandled or attract insects.
While outdoors, keep all food in shaded areas wherever possible. Ensure that foods that need to be cooked are kept a fair distance from ready to eat items such as chips, buns or salads which aren’t being heated or cooked before serving.
Before barbecuing, wash your grill! Scrubbing it with a wire brush while cold. After heating, follow up by rubbing with wet paper towel. This will remove old pieces of old meat, then kill and wash away any remaining harmful bacteria.
As with any food, be sure to check out the expiration date before using it, especially when dealing with raw meat.
Keep an eye on the temperature. When it’s hot outside (90 degrees Fahrenheit or above) food should not be left unrefrigerated for over an hour. Any food left out for this period of time should be thrown out immediately.
While on the subject of temperature, it’s also important to educate yourself on the temperatures required to properly grill your favourite barbecue snacks. Chicken and hot dogs should be cooked to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken to 150 degrees. the best way to obtain these temperatures is to get your grill running at 450 degrees or higher. Food should never be partially grilled and then continued later. Start with the aim of cooking for consumption and eat immediately.
Before cooking with coals, you should check to see that they are glowing red and a grey, powdered surface, indicating they’re hot enough to cook produce.
You may wish to purchase a portable meat thermometer to ensure your meat is thoroughly cooked through to the center. In addition to the temperature, indicators of well cooked meat include clear running juices and the absence of pink color.