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The main causes of foodborne illnesses during barbecues and barbecues

Barbecues and barbecues in the yard with friends is one of the best parts of summer. Walk around your neighborhood on a warm day and you will undoubtedly smell the smoky smell of charcoal on the grill.

Here’s the question, though: do you trust your friends enough to serve you food safely? (Seriously, think about what you saw them do in college and then answer this question.)

Restaurants have strict safety protocols to follow, but informal gatherings are pretty much free. Imagine being a food safety expert and attending a barbecue. They are trained to be aware of the potential risks of foodborne illnesses. If you want to make sure the barbecue you host (or attend) is up to their standard, there are three big risks you need to be aware of.

Before we get into it, it’s worth pointing out that the pandemic isn’t over yet; in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects an increase in COVID-19 cases as the weather gets warmer, especially if you live in the South. For this reason, it’s important to get vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already.

OK, ready to talk food? Here are the top causes of foodborne illness at barbecues, according to food safety experts.

Reason 1: Germs from your rude friends

“When I think of foodborne illness at a barbecue or barbecue, the first thing that comes to mind is not a certain food per se, but behaviors that may increase risk. “, said Ellen Shumaker, who leads outreach for North Carolina State University’s Community Food Security Program. The number one risky behavior she talks about: not washing your hands.

Maybe COVID-19 has put you off common foods for good, but every time you share food with friends, Shumaker says, you risk coming into contact with their germs. If someone doesn’t wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom and then catches a handful of Ruffles, other people who want crisps later are at risk of getting sick. “For that reason, you want to make sure everyone can wash their hands at the meeting or have hand sanitizer available for people to use,” Shumaker said.

Reason 2: Food is left in the sun too long

Although you may already know that leaving macaroni salad out in the sun is a bad idea, the Food Safety Inspector Jeff Nelken really says that any food that needs to be kept hot or cold should not be left out. Nelken says food between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is in what is called the “dangerous zone.” “This is when the bacteria start multiplying and can double as quickly as 20 minutes,” he said, and food should never stay in this area for more than two hours.

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Don’t even think about leaving that potato salad out in the sun.

To be on the safe side, Shumaker advises not to keep cold dishes for more than an hour. After that, they should be returned to the refrigerator or kept in a cooler with ice packs. They also need to stay cooler than 40 F. To make sure they are, Nelken recommends bringing a pocket food thermometer at your grill or barbecue. Hot foods ― including meat ― should be stored above 140 F, according to Nelken.

“If the grill or barbecue is in someone’s house, I recommend putting only small amounts of food on at a time, and then you can replenish with additional small amounts of food over time,” Shumaker said. Not only will this help keep food out of the danger zone, but it will also reduce cross contamination of people getting their food.

Reason 3: Meat is undercooked or has contaminated other foods

Anytime meat is served, whether it’s hamburgers, chicken steak, or ribs, there’s a risk of foodborne illness.

The two food safety experts say it’s essential that nothing that touches raw meat touches it again when cooked. They recommend having a designated plate and cooking utensils solely dedicated to handling raw meat that should never touch cooked meat.

If you’re grilling vegetables or fruit, Shumaker advises not to use the same plates or cooking utensils you use for meat — and clean the grill thoroughly first. (Most people don’t want grilled peaches that taste like chicken anyway.)

Nelken said it’s also important that the meat is well cooked, which is, again, key to this food thermometer. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165 F, beef to at least 145 F and ground beef to at least 160 F, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

As long as you keep this expert food safety information in mind, your grill and barbecue should be safe from foodborne illness. Now the only worry on your mind will be finding an excuse to leave work the next day so you can start over.

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