At last we’re getting some good weather and lots of people in the area are hitting the garden and dusting down the barbecue.
NHS Scotland laboratories have confirmed that food poisoning figures are 27 per cent higher than this time last year, with 1,073 infections detected in a five week period. This does not include people who have become infected but not reported it through the NHS.
Council food safety experts have issued some helpful tips to make barbie time both safe and germ free.
Rhondda Geekie, convenor of policy and resources, said: “During good weather many people enjoy having a barbecue and they are an excellent way to unwind and have fun in the summer, but they can be disastrous if you, or your guests, get food poisoning.
“By following some really simple steps, you can drastically cut down the chances of things going wrong. Our environmental health officers are true experts in the area, so it’s really worth taking their tips on board when firing up the barbie.”
Whatever you’re cooking this summer, keep food safe for family and friends by remembering these tips:
It’s an obvious one but always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before eating.
Make sure the coals of the barbecue are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before starting to cook food.
Keep raw meat separate from cooked or ready to eat food.
Use separate utensils for cooked and raw foods and never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has had raw meat on it.
Defrost frozen meats and poultry before cooking and turn it regularly during cooking.
Meat and poultry can be fully cooked in the kitchen (e.g. oven or grill) first then put on the barbecue for a short while to get the lovely barbecue flavour – this can be an easier option if you’re cooking for lots of people, and just as tasty!
Don’t put sauce or marinade on cooked meat if it was in contact with the meat when it was raw.
Check burgers, sausages and chicken are cooked in the middle by cutting them (at the thickest part) and checking they are steaming hot all the way through – no meat should be pink and juices should be clear. (Pieces of meat, such as steak, may be ‘rare’ in the middle as long as they are cooked on the outside but this is different to food made from minced meat!)
Keep ham and other cooked meats, salads, dips and things you would normally keep in the fridge, cold until it’s time to cook or eat them – use a ‘cool bag’ with frozen ice packs if your fridge is too full.
Don’t leave food out of the fridge for more than a couple of hours and don’t leave food in the sun.
Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible (or dispose of them). If reheating food check it’s piping hot in the middle.
Don’t wash raw chicken before cooking. There’s no need if it’s being thoroughly cooked and it just spreads germs around your sink and surfaces.
Use disposable cloths and disinfecting spray to keep things squeaky clean.
Councillor Geekie added: “Hopefully these tips will keep you and your family safe, but if you do think you have food poisoning you should visit your GP to get advice.”
For further information about food safety matters go to www.food.gov.uk or contact the Council on 0300 123 4510 and ask to speak to a food safety officer.