While having a barbecue is an amazing thing to do and have, there are so many things that can happen that can get you sick. Lets go through the things that occur at a barbecue.
- Preparing the food – this is easy. You simply marinate the meat (if you want) and then put it in the fridge overnight or for a few hours. You cut your chicken, make a hamburger with the ground meat, and open a pack of hot dogs. DONE.
- Making potato salad – such a wonderful dish. With mayo, mustard, eggs, potatoes, and sweet relish. Yummy.
- Making pork n beans. Another delicious side item.
- Putting everything on the grill. So you bring out your food in a container that has been marinating. You place everything on the grill to cook. (Your pork n beans and potato salad are inside cooking.)
- Put the cooked food on a dish and bring it inside.
- Eat the food.
- Leave the food out to munch on throughout the day since majority of the time it is spent with family.
Does that sound about right? We all do this. Well, except if you are at my house. I don’t leave food out and I am watching the temperatures of everything. In fact, once my meat is cooked, I put my oven on inside on 170 degrees and pop them in there until everything is done so the temperatures don’t go down.
So while these are EASY steps, there are so many different things that can happen here to make you get sick.
The ones that worry me the most are bringing your food outside and then bringing it back in on the same container. Have you ever been guilty of putting the cooked meat in the SAME container that the raw meat was just in. You even saved a dish for significant other to wash!
This is such a critical thing that most people don’t think about. You just wasted your time cooking the meat. You have recontaminated your cooked meat with possible bacteria from the food.
(Side note: Ground meat has one of the greatest risks for foodborne illness due to so much area exposed. This is why you can eat a steak medium or rare because the inside hasn’t – possibly – been contaminated with salmonella, e. coli, or any of the other foodborne illnesses.)
- YOU NEED TO USE A DIFFERENT POT/PAN/CONTAINER WHEN YOU BRING COOKED FOOD IN. NEVER USE THE SAME CONTAINER.
The next big concern is when you leave your food out to munch on later. If the food stays in the danger zone (between 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F) it can make you sick. Food can only stay out at a maximum of 2 hours before you need to pick it up. Put it in small containers in the fridge. Even if you put in one big pan the inside will not cool as quickly as the outside. (This goes for all food that you cook.)
- COOL DOWN THE FOOD AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE WITHIN 2 HOURS OF COOKING.
Let’s talk about potato salad. This is bacteria’s dream food. Warm when you mix mayo in and you have eggs. If you are going to eat it hot, eat it right when it’s done. Don’t leave it out on the counter to cool down. Put it in the fridge to cool down and eat it cold.
Overall, this goes for all food. Not just a barbecue. You have to watch the steps that you are doing and make sure that nothing is able to get you or your family sick. All food has to be cooled down within 2 hours and you should never put raw meat with cooked meat.
Hopefully you’ll use these tips next time you barbecue!