Wow! What gorgeous weather we’ve been having lately. Let’s hope that it holds out for the Bank Holiday weekend. If, like us, you’re planning on having an outdoor party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, make sure it’s one to remember for the right reasons. After all, nobody wants their enjoyment marred by a bout of food poisoning that could easily have been avoided.
Here are some food safety reminders to ensure that your party goes with a swing:
- An obvious one, but always wash your hands before handling food.
- Wash fruit and salad vegetables before preparing them.
- Leave food in the fridge until the very last minute – this especially applies to meat, poultry and any food containing cream.
- Overfilling the fridge can cause temperatures to drop – if you find you don’t have room for everything, remove beer and wine and place in a bucket of ice. Don’t compromise food safety for the sake of a chilled drink.
- If you’re serving hot food that you’ve prepared earlier, never reheat it more than once and ensure that it’s piping hot before you serve it – don’t ever feel under pressure to reduce cooking times just because there’s a queue of people waiting.
- Make sure that any food you prepare is in date and has been stored correctly. This is particularly important for prepared salads, deli meats and soft cheeses.
- Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked meat separate – for example don’t use the same chopping board or utensils unless they have been thoroughly cleaned between usages.
- Cover food until it is required. If you are outdoors, this will protect it from insects etc.
How to barbecue properly
As soon as there is so much as a whiff of good weather you can bet your bottom dollar that the world and his wife will be dusting off their barbecues. Barbecued food can taste delicious and there are so many different types of food on offer at butchers and supermarkets nowadays. However you need to have plenty of patience if you want to ensure your burgers, bangers, kebabs, chicken drumsticks and marinated meats are safe to eat.
- Firstly you shouldn’t start cooking until the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface – this can take up to a couple of hours to achieve.
- Don’t put frozen food directly on the barbecue, always ensure that it is thoroughly defrosted before you cook.
- Make sure that any meat you serve is cooked all the way through and is steaming hot – that means no pink bits! The meat juices should also run clear when pierced with a fork.
- Keep rotating the food to ensure that it’s cooked evenly.
- Remember that just because food is charred on the outside, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is cooked on the inside. If you have lots of people to feed, why not cook the food inside on a conventional grill and then finish it off on the barbecue to give a smoky flavour?
- The same rules apply to avoid cross-contamination i.e. don’t put raw meat next to cooked or partially-cooked meat; keep raw meat away from burger buns and salads etc; use separate utensils and plates for raw and cooked meat; always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
- If you’re catering for several people, why not take a look at our online Level 2 Food Safety course? It costs just £15, only takes 2-3 hours to complete and will give you complete peace of mind.