As the weather warms up, we turn to our barbecues to grill delicious foods and enjoy the season. Here are some tips from Health Canada to keep you and your guests happy and healthy this summer:
- At the store. Buy cold food at the end of your trip. Raw meat may contain harmful bacteria, so keep it separate from other items to avoid cross-contamination. Put packages of raw meat in plastic bags to keep juices from leaking onto other foods.
- In the fridge. Always refrigerate perishable foods as quickly as possible, especially in warm weather. Keep raw meat on the bottom shelf, away from other foods.
- In the cooler. If it’ll take you longer than a couple of hours to get home after shopping or when bringing food up to the cottage, pack perishables in an insulated cooler with ice packs. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and the internal temperature at or below 4°C (39°F). Try using separate coolers for food and drinks so that food stays colder longer.
- At the BBQ. Inspect your barbecue brush and the barbecue grill before each use. The metal bristles on the brush can become loose over time and stick to the grill, then stick to food and be accidentally swallowed, possibly causing serious throat or digestive injuries.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate utensils, cutting boards and dishes when handling raw and cooked meat. For example, do not place cooked meat on the same plate used to bring raw meat to the grill. Raw juices can spread bacteria to your safely cooked food and cause food poisoning.
- Keep it clean. After washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, sanitize all cooking equipment and work surfaces with a mild homemade bleach solution. Mix 5 mL of bleach with 750 mL of water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on and let stand briefly, then rinse with clean water and air dry or use clean towels.
- Cook thoroughly. You can’t tell if meat is done and safe to eat by looking at the colour alone. Use a digital food thermometer and check the below Government of Canada food safety website for the safe internal cooking temperatures for beef, poultry, pork, and other foods.
- Store leftovers. Put food in shallow containers so that it cools quickly. Discard any food left out for more than two hours. On hot summer days, don’t keep food at room temperature for more than one hour.
Find more information at canada.ca/foodsafety.