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How to cook and eat outdoors this summer - without giving yourself food poisoning

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 19/06/2017 Sam Yarwood

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Barbecue season is upon us.

Temperatures reached the high 20s over the weekend, with scores of people dusting off their grills and cooking up a feast as they basked in the sun.

With the warm weather expected to last for another few days, there’s no doubt many more will be dining al fresco.

According to the Food Standards Agency, more than 20 million people will enjoy a picnic or barbecue outside this summer.

As the heat rises, so does the number of cases of food poisoning.

Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella are nasty bugs that can easily spread and make people very ill.

The FSA say many people put themselves at risk of contracting the bugs and have issued a warning reminding people how to stay safe when barbecuing or having picnics this summer.

Cooking on the barbecue

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.

When cooking minced meat products such as beef burgers, sausages and kebabs and pork, turkey and chicken, always check that:

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

Burgers prepared at home should always be cooked all the way through until steaming hot. They should not be served rare or pink because harmful bacteria may be present in the middle of the burger, causing food poisoning.

Once served, dishes should not sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if it’s very hot outside.

Picnics

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc
  1. Clean up first – rinse fresh fruits (including those with rinds) and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cool box.
  2. Keep cold food cold – place cold food in a cool box with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 5c or below to prevent bacterial growth.
  3. Organise your cool box – pack drinks in one cool box and perishable foods in another. If using freezer packs (frozen drinks work well for this purpose), distribute them throughout the box – not all at the bottom.
  4. Keep your cool box closed – once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cool box is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold for longer.
  5. Pack away your picnic – once you’ve served it, dishes should not sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if it’s very hot outside. After this, the risk of bacteria increases and it becomes unsafe to eat, so best to throw it away when you get home. Pack away food so that your guests are not tempted to nibble later. To waste less, pre-plan portion sizes according to the size of your party and only pack what you need.

Heather Hancock, chair of the FSA Board said: “When you’re at a picnic this summer, remember that keeping food cool is an important defence against people getting food poisoning. Generally, the cooler the temperature the slower germs will grow. That’s why paying attention to how food is stored and transported is especially important in the warm summer months.”

Chilling and defrosting

Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing, especially in the warm summer months. Make sure you do the following things to keep your food safe:

  1. Do not defrost foods at room temperature. Ideally food should be defrosted fully in the fridge or if this is not possible, using a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking.
  2. Cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature and then place in the fridge within one to two hours.
  3. Store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods, covered on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
  4. Keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation.
  5. Any food with a ‘use by’ date, cooked dishes, salads and desserts all need to be kept chilled and out of the sun until serving time.
  6. At barbecues and picnics, cold perishable food should be kept in the fridge or a cool box until serving time.
  7. Check regularly that your fridge is cold enough - the coldest part should be below 5C.
  8. Don’t overfill your fridge. This allows air to circulate and maintains the set temperature.

Cleaning

Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces, helping to stop harmful bacteria from spreading onto food. These three tips will help keep germs at bay:

  1. Hands: Wash hands before cooking and eating where possible. If you’re at a picnic and it’s not possible to wash your hands, use a wet wipe to clean your hands, then use a sanitiser on top to sterilise them.
  2. Dish cloths: Wash or change dish cloths, tea towels, sponges and oven gloves regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
  3. Utensils and serving dishes: Take care to keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food and ensure you don’t mix those used to prepare raw and ready-to-eat dishes.
  4. Cook it, don’t wash it: Don’t wash raw chicken or any other meat; it just splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present.

Related: How To Perfectly Cook Frozen Steak

(Provided by Wochit)

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