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Cooking Foods on the Barbeque the Healthy Safe Way

Updated on December 22, 2014

Where to Keep Foods

Refrigerator with barbeque foods in the right place!
Refrigerator with barbeque foods in the right place! | Source

BBQ in the Summer.

Whether you are a seasoned BBQ chef, or a beginner barbeque cook, why not check through this article to make sure that whilst you're having fun in the outdoors your super, grilled foods are healthy and safe to eat? If you aren't sure you know all about it, then here are some important tips for healthy cooking on the barbeque.

It's important to:

  • Carefully wash foods.
  • Always have clean hands.
  • Use Clean cooking instruments.
  • Never using the utensils on cooked foods and then on raw foods
  • Be careful with marinades.
  • Cover foods to keep out wasps and insects.
  • Don't carbonize your meats or fish or vegetables.

This article explains why!

Clean and Cold from the Refrigerator

Fresh and Cold from the Refrigerator
Fresh and Cold from the Refrigerator | Source

Bacteria and Food Poisoning

Bacteria in foods are capable of replicating themselves exponentially every twenty minutes, so the first rule of thumb when pulling out those sausages, those mackerel or those courgette to grill on your barbeque is to remember to really wash your hands well - and make sure you have properly cleaned your cooking utensils and dishes including the following:

  • chopping block (not wood because it is porous)
  • cooking instruments such as the cooking fork and palette
  • plates
  • serving dishes

Facts about Bacteria

Bacteria are single cell organisms.

Bacteria is important for the aging of meat and in producing foods such as cheese and yogurt.

Bacteria sometimes spoils foods and makes it smell.

Some bacteria cause 'salmonella'.

Bacteria reproduces by the one cell dividing into two parts (Binary Fission).

Binary Fission can take 15-20 minutes

A single bacteria can multiply to large numbers in a short time.

Cross Contamination

NEVER use the cooking instruments or plates that you are using on cooked meats - for raw meats.

To avoid bacteria moving between foods - a process called 'cross contamination' - it's really important to wash or wipe all your cooking things with lots of hot soapy water between uses (or with paper toweling if you are in the wilds) because the bacteria on for example, the cold ham you had a moment ago can move to the steak you'll be grilling, or those baby lamb chops.

Bacteria that can cause food poisoning can also come from any wound, scratch or bite on your hands or person, so it's important to cover your wounds with a band aid!

How to Marinate Foods Safely

There's no doubt about it, marinating meats and fish tenderizes and adds great flavors to foods for grilling on the barbeque. To maintain freshness and to avoid contamination;

  • Best to use glass, plastic or ceramic dishes
  • Keep the marinating food covered in plastic paper
  • Cover to keep out wasps and insects
  • Keep it in the refrigerator

NEVER use the same marinade twice.

If you want to use your delicious marinade as a condiment again, before using it the first time, remove the quantity you'll need successively - and reserve separately (in the refrigerator). Don't dip any food into it!.

How to Keep Foods Fresh Outside

Cover foods to stop insects and bacteria forming from them.
Cover foods to stop insects and bacteria forming from them. | Source

Preserving Food Temperatures

Refrigerator Temperature Min Degrees
Max Degrees
All Meats
All salamis and cold cuts
Fish and molluscs
Cooked foods
Vegetables and fruuits

Refrigerating Foods for BbQs

Needless to say a clean refrigerator is important too. It's best to clean your refrigerator once a week, not keep it too crowded, and put foods where they are suited. Foods for barbequing are usually meats, fish and vegetables:

  • The covered foods are best kept in some sort of plastic or glass container so that they don't drip.
  • The place to keep them is on the shelf just above the refrigerator drawers - where the temperature is about 2° C. (It is the coldest part of the refrigerator).
  • Vegetables are best kept in the drawers at the base of the refrigerator at about 4-5°C (where there's more humidity).

Best Food To Cook Rare is Beef

Rare steaks and grilled peppers on the grill
Rare steaks and grilled peppers on the grill | Source

How to Gauge the Temperature for BBQ'ing

If you are barbequing with charcoal, or with wood, place your hand above the grill - approximately six inches - and count the number of seconds before it's too hot.

Two to four seconds = HOT

Five to seven seconds = MEDIUM

Eight to ten seconds = LOW

The MEDIUM heat is the right one!

Cooking on the Barbeque

It's best to use natural products in the BbQ such as logs or coal.

NEVER burn painted wood, which has toxic chemicals in it. Here follows a list of dos and donts, for healthy cooking on the barbeque:

  • Take the skin off chicken, select leaner cuts of meat of game.
  • Cook the foods well through, especially pork fish and chicken. (Undercooked meat doesn't kill bacteria).
  • Cook the foods slowly (and uniformly).
  • Don't cook frozen foods.
  • Don't cook partially thawed foods.
  • Don't char the food on the outside to avoid producing cancerous chemicals.
  • Use home made marinades because commercial marinades may contain corn syrup (which isn't good for you!)

The best meat (for avoiding salmonella) is beef, which is the only protein that may be cooked 'rare'.

BbQ Fish

BbQ Fish
BbQ Fish | Source

Keep foods Covered

Covered foods and nice clean cooking utensils!
Covered foods and nice clean cooking utensils! | Source

How to Keep Foods Outside

Because there are insects which can carry salmonella, it's best to keep all foods covered outside - and not for too long.

Precaution is a great thing when cooking on the barbeque. Everyone has to presume they may be carrying food poisoning bacteria (50% of the population carry Staphylococcus Aureus - commonly known as 'staph'), so it is easy to get a germ which can cause a lot of harm - even death in many instances.

Using common sense while you're cooking, plus a 'clean ship' guarantees that your fun barbeque (wherever you are!) is totally, healthy safe and delicious - and no one will get sick!

© 2012 Penelope Hart


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    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Just Ask Susan. Hope they'll be handy next time the weather's good enough to BBQ! Thanks for dropping in.

      DzyMsLizzy. Many thanks for adding the most important information about keeping veg and meat separated. Most valid. Thank you for all your wonderful comments.

      Lots of people have super duper refrigerators, especially in the USA, but in Europe and other parts of the world we have the mini versions with not so many compartments - which is illustrated above.

      About 'more bugs today', it's probably not the case. It's that our digestives systems have been weakened by so many controls on our foods, no more good o'l bacteria as there was in the old days. I lived in Europe all my life, never had a tummy bug. I went to New York for a few years and then had a holiday in Mexico where I picked up some bad bug off a tomato. If I'd have gone from Europe to Mexico, I bet I wouldn't have picked up that bug. Food was so sanitized in NY compared to old Europe.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very good points, and most are valid, but I must say, I think either there are more and worse "bugs" out and about these days, or...??? We grew up with nothing but wooden cutting boards and chopping blocks, and rarely got sick with anything...certainly not salmonella...of course, you must CLEAN your wood cutting boards using HOT soapy water, then heavily salting them to draw out the moisture.

      Most refrigerators these days come with specified drawers for certain kinds of food, and humidity level control sliders. Ours, for example, has the meat on the bottom, where it is COLDEST, as temperature, too, is very important.

      The other thing you must do, is keep meats and vegetables segregated, unless you are making a mixed-dish such as kabobs...even then, I'd be very careful, as meats and veggies take different cooking times. It is not only a cross-contamination issue, but any vegetarians will not appreciate their marinated vegetables being snuggled up to a steak.

      Your tips on determining proper grill temperature are spot-on; we learned that tip when my kids were in Girl Scouts, as well as the fact of how to know how much charcoal to use for certain temps. For example, for a 360 degree temp, you'd use just 9 briquettes. We were taught this formula: each briquette puts out about 40 degrees worth of available cooking heat. (Note--this is NOT the temperature of the actual briquette--never touch them when they are burning, as they are extremely hot--the 40 degrees is just the available output at the distance of the grill from the fire.) You can't get to an exact oven temperature of 350 degrees, but 360 is close enough.

      Today's propane grills often have built-in temperature gauges, so this is knowledge that is being forgotten....

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't use the BBQ as much at this time of year but I will keep all of your helpful tips in mind.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Natashalh. It's SO important to be careful with food, agreed. Appreciate your comments, thanks,

      Judi Bee. Sorry it's raining, it would make barbequing a little more challenging, but as long as the food is all safe and healthy, who cares? Thanks for comment.

      Just Ask Susan. Glad you approve of the tips and good luck on remembering your propane tank. Thanks.

      Janis Goad. so pleased you learned something new here. Enjoy your picnics and I do appreciate your comments.

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 5 years ago

      I like you tip about how to tell when the barbecue is the right temperature. Sometimes we barbecue out at a park for Saturday afternoon, and I had a hard time getting the temperature right.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great tips. It's always best to be safe than sorry. Food handling is so important.

      Your hub has reminded me that I need to fill my propane tank.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      It's pouring with rain here at the moment, but you've put me in the mood for a barbeque! Your photos are fab! Good advice too.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Amazingly useful! Food safety is very important when grilling or having a picnic, but it frequently goes by the wayside. I've refused to eat things at cookouts before because I knew they hadn't been handled properly. This is a fantastic resource!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      What are you going to grill? Have a great barbeque!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. My friend and I are about to barbeque in a few hours! We'll try to stay safe. :)

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      So pleased you like the refrigerator drawing! and the photos. We enjoyed the evening (making the barbeque and eating) and drawing the drawing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There's some great advice in this very useful hub, GoodLady. I love your illustration, too, as well as the photos!