Barbecuing? Play it cool and safe

DUBAI - With Eid Al Adha holidays falling at the start of winter, it is time to dust and clean your barbecue grill for a perfect picnic.

By Staff Reporter

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 12:22 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:59 PM

Many of you might be a master chef when it comes to barbecuing. But, have you ever thought about the safest way to prepare the delicious dish during your cookout party?

The Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Department is reminding residents that it is important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food-borne illness. Considering the popularity of barbecue outings during the holidays, the department’s Mascot ‘Mr Safe’ has issued a set of simple guidelines for grilling food safely.

Mr Safe gives safe tips to be used in steps from the time you are shopping the meat.

When shopping, Mr Safe reminds that you should buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. You should also separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart.

To guard against cross contamination, Mr Safe says, it is better to put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags. You must plan to drive directly home from the store. Otherwise, you may also want to take a cooler pack with ice for perishables, as it is a must to refrigerate perishable food within two hours. At home, place fish, meat and poultry in the freezer immediately.

According to Mr Safe, meat and poultry should be thawed completely before grilling so that it cooks more evenly.

Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill. You should keep the marinated food also in the refrigerator, not outside.

When carrying food to another location, Mr Safe says, you should keep it cold to minimise bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler (ice box) with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 5°C or below.

Before setting out to your picnic destination, find out if there is a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths and wet towels.

Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.

When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Remind your team members to avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Also, make sure that there are plenty of clean utensils or disposables.

To prevent food-borne illness, Mr Safe says, never use the same utensils for raw and cooked meat or poultry. This is because raw meat and fish can contain food poisoning bugs and if raw meat is near to, or drips onto, cooked or ready-to-eat foods, the bugs can be transferred.

So, keep raw meat away from the ready-to-eat foods and do not put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat. Don’t put raw meat next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue and always wash your hands after handling raw meat.

Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill. If a marinade or sauce has been used with raw meat, don’t then add it to cooked food. Ensure frozen food is thoroughly thawed before you cook it.

Don’t start cooking until the charcoal is red hot, with a grey powdery surface. Cook food evenly, by turning it regularly and moving it around on the barbecue. Make surethe centre of food is piping hot and cooked right through. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that food must be cooked right through if it’scharred on the outside, as this is not always the case. Although barbecues are enjoyable, Mr Safe says, they do posefood safety risks. So, don’t forget that food safety issues are crucial whenyou are barbecuing.

More news from