94% 'have risky BBQ hygiene habit'

Almost all Britons make risky hygiene mistakes at the barbecue, research has found, leading a Government body to suggest they cook the food in the oven first.

Some 94% of people say they have at least one habit at the barbecue that risks the health of them and their guests
Some 94% of people say they have at least one habit at the barbecue that risks the health of them and their guests

Some 94% of people say they have at least one habit at the barbecue that risks the health of them and their guests, while one in five (21%) believe they have been ill due to something they have eaten as a result, a poll for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found.

More than half of Britons (54%) are set to take advantage of the approaching Bank Holiday weekend to enjoy what could be the last barbecue of the summer before returning to work or school.

The survey found that 24% of those who describe themselves as the main cook at a barbecue do not usually cook at home.

It found 19% of barbecue cooks do not keep raw and cooked food on separate plates, 21% do not wash their hands with soap after handling raw meat and almost half (47%) do not keep food chilled until just before use.

Just over half (51%) risk cross-contaminating food by using the same tongs for raw and cooked meats.

The risks of cross-contamination can lead to illnesses such as campylobacter, which causes food poisoning in an estimated 280,000 people each year.

Almost a third (28%) admit to not checking that burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through and 32% do not check that chicken is thoroughly cooked.

The FSA has released a list of tips to help cooks cut the risk of food poisoning, with the first being to pre-cook the meat or poultry in the oven and finish it off on the barbecue for flavour.

It also warned that "charred doesn't mean cooked", and that meat should be steaming hot all the way through, not pink, and with any juices running clear.

Other tips warn that disposable barbecues take longer to cook food, raw meat should be stored and handled separately and raw chicken should not be washed as it splashes germs around.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said: "Food poisoning is a real risk at barbecues and so we are reminding people to take good care of their families and friends by paying attention to simple food safety rules."

Censuswide surveyed 2,030 adults online between July 23-30.