Barbecues can be an easy way to get food poisoning. Following a few simple rules will minimise the risk of an unhappy ending to your outdoor fun.

Three simple rules for a safe barbecue

Barbecues attract bacteria that thrive in warm conditions, so:

Be clean

  • Keep your hands clean at all times
  • Wash vegetables before you cook them and rinse salads
  • Keep your utensils clean and always use separate tools for raw and cooked meats
  • Don't put cooked foods back into the container you used to bring them into the garden uncooked
  • Make sure any helpers, including children, obey these rules too

Defrost thoroughly

Always fully defrost frozen meats and poultry before cooking - this means planning ahead and may mean getting foods out of the freezer the day before your barbecue.

Keep all perishable foods cool until you need to use them, either in the fridge or in a cool box or bag with ice packs.

Cook thoroughly

Poultry, sausages, burgers and chopped or minced meats should always be cooked until they are piping hot throughout: the juices should run clear and there should be no pink bits. Never eat them rare.

It is a good idea to pre-cook poultry just before barbecuing, and use the barbecue to add flavour and crispness.

Take care with the fire

Use a sheltered, level site, away from anything that might catch fire.

Keep pets and children at a distance; use long-handled equipment when handling hot coals, and keep a bucket of sand or water handy.

Let the coals burn through and go white before cooking, so that food cooks more slowly and the inside is cooked through before the outside gets burnt.