BBQ Food safety

Food Hygiene safety: 5 tips for BBQ’s, camp food and picnics

Food Hygiene safety within Covid-19 restrictions – is it possible? By limiting socialisation and recreation to gardens and outdoor spaces we are all going to be spending more time outside with our loved ones than ever. And what better as the weather improves than to share food together. Make sure you are serving and preparing hygienic and safe food outdoors with our handy guide. #food-hygiene

Food Hygiene safety

1. Handwashing

You might be sick of being told to wash your hands, but handwashing is a key part of effective food hygiene and essential to preparing safe food outdoors. Washing hands and cleaning food preparation surfaces before use removes bacteria and prevents them from transferring onto food. This is particularly important if you have been handling high risk foods such as raw meat for the barbeque, or potential chemical contaminants like firelighters or cooking fuels.

Handwashing is most effective when using soap and hot water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If you are out and about and don’t have access to clean water before eating your picnic, a wet wipe is a good option to get hands clean. You could also use some hand sanitiser to kill bacteria. Remember that hand sanitiser may not remove chemical contaminants or all bacteria from your hands so washing hands with soap and water is the most effective protection.

BBQ Food safety

2. Storing Food

When cooking or eating outside your home you need to consider what facilities will be available to you to help keep food fresh. The food that you would have for a barbeque in your own garden might not be suitable for a multi day camping adventure. Whether you are keeping food in a tent or a car while you camp or a cool box for a daylong picnic at the beach, the temperature and humidity conditions may not be ideal for food storage.

Any ‘ready to eat foods’ which are high in protein are considered high risk. ‘Ready to eat’ means that they are likely to be eaten without any further cooking and includes foods like cooked meats, dairy produce and eggs. These foods are likely to spoil if poorly stored. #Level-1-food-hygiene

Try to find ways of storing ‘ready to eat foods’ separately from raw foods to prevent cross-contamination. If you are outdoors, one option would be to use separate sealed containers within a cool box. If you are going to struggle to store fresh foods safely, an alternative option is to cook with dry, store cupboard items instead. A tin of baked beans and sausages is much easier to store safely than a pack of fresh sausages.

3. Keeping Cool

Ideally, fresh food needs to be stored below 5°C to prevent bacterial growth. For a short picnic your ham sandwiches are likely to be fine if kept in a cool box, but that might not be the case if you are spending the whole day in the sun in the park. If you are camping for a few days you might want to consider a pitch with an electric hook-up where you could bring a camping fridge to keep you milk nice and cool. If that is not possible, a well insulated cool box with regularly replaced ice packs can also be a safe food storage option.

4. Cooking

Food Hygiene safety can be tasty however food needs to be through to kill harmful bacteria. If the cooking time is too short, or temperature too low then bacteria may survive or even multiply instead. A barbeque is a classic example, where food may be charred on the outside, but still raw inside. Use cooking guidelines on food wrappers to help guide your cooking, but be aware that camping stoves or barbeques may not cook as hot or evenly as your oven at home. To learn more see our Level 2 Food Hygiene Course

Food hygiene safety outdoors should follow the same principles as at home. To ensure that meat is cooked thoroughly you should always check:

  • it is steaming hot throughout
  • there is no pink visible when you cut into the thickest part
  • any juices run clear.

5. Food Poisoning

Poor food hygiene safety practices are likely to lead to food poisoning. If you are camping you will need to be especially careful because you are likely to need to wash utensils and prepare food entirely outdoors. Cooking equipment needs to be washed between uses to avoid contaminating your latest meal with your last. Any food left over from previous meals may provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Animals may also carry harmful bacteria, so make sure that you keep food in secure containers which cannot be contaminated by pests. This includes covering pots while cooking. Try to keep any food preparation areas clean and free of pests including insects, animals and birds.

To prepare safe food outdoors you need to follow good food hygiene practices. If you want to learn more about food hygiene safety and food preparation you might be interested in iQualifi’s level 2 in Food Hygiene.

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