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Published on Thursday, April 11, 2024

Barbecue safety tips from Grey Bruce Public Health

By Evelyn Hodgkin,
Public Health Inspector

It’s finally that time of the year when we can’t wait to get behind the grill and barbecue some of our favourite foods with family and friends.

While enjoying this barbecue season, it’s important to remember to keep all the food you plan on serving safe.

Poor food-handling practices can lead to illness with mild to severe symptoms. If you’ve never had a food-borne illness, consider yourself lucky. If you have, you know that symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, and severe headaches – to name just a few – are no laughing matter.

Food safety begins at the grocery store.

If you are doing lots of errands, plan to do your grocery shopping last so the food you purchase can go straight into the fridge when you get home, and not sit in your car on those hot summer days.

Before you begin cooking, make sure your hands and surfaces are cleaned with warm soapy water.

Wash your hands for 20 seconds after using the washroom, taking out the trash, sneezing or touching your face, and handling raw meat, and before preparing food.

If you’re thawing any food items, make sure they are thawed in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Separate raw foods, such as uncooked meat, fish, or chicken, from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and fruits, to avoid cross-contamination.

Make sure that food is adequately cooked and checked with a probe thermometer. Here are some internal food temperatures to keep in mind:

  • Chicken 74°C (165°F)
  • Fish 70°C (158°F)
  • Shellfish 74°C (165°F)
  • Burgers and sausages 71°C (160°F).

When cooking poultry, the juices should run clear and the joints should be free of blood.

Anything that sits outside at room temperature is considered to be in the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is when the temperature is between 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F). This is the temperature where bacteria multiply the fastest. So, on those hot summer days, if you’re leaving food out, make sure it’s for not longer than two hours.

Refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers. If you’re traveling with food to be cooked at a friend or relative’s home, transport the food in a cooler with ice packs to decrease the time in the Danger Zone.

Lastly, inspect your barbecue brush and grill before each use as the bristles can become loose over time. A shedding brush can cause bristles to get stuck on the grill and transfer into food, which could be accidentally swallowed.

If you have any food-related questions, feel free to contact one of your local Public Health Inspectors at 519-376-9420 ext. 3130.

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