Six unexpected things which could give you food poisoning at a barbecue

Most of us are familiar with some of the risks of barbecuing food – hence the reason British people tend to absolutely incinerate chicken drumsticks, just to be safe in summer.

But even if you take care to pre-cook all the chicken and ensure sausages aren’t pink inside, you could still be running a risk.

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Every year, a million of us get food poisoning, says the Food Standards Agency.

‘Extras’ such as salads and drinks can be dangerous too – as can the way you serve up the food. Here are some of the habits which could put you at risk.

Using one fork to cook AND serve food

How many forks do you use when you’re barbecuing? If the answer is ‘one’, you could be risking your health – and that of your guests.

When barbecue chefs prod bits of raw meat with a fork, then use the same one to lift off cooked burgers, it’s a shortcut to food poisoning.

‘This is when bugs found on the surface of raw meat, including E.coli, can be transferred to sterilised cooked meat,’ says food safety expert Professor John Oxford.

‘Use one fork to place raw meat on the barbecue, another to move the meat around during the cooking process and finally a third fork to move the cooked meat from the barbecue to the plate.’

Putting ice cubes in a cool box

If you put ice cubes in the bottom of a cool box, they can get infected with bacteria from anything else in there – such as bits of chicken.

The NHS says, ‘You can very easily pick up germs from raw foods on your hands or utensils, and then spread them to anything else you touch, including food that’s cooked and ready to eat. This is called cross-contamination.’

Eating burgers that have been sitting out for a while

Once a barbie is really going, you can build up an impressive pile of brown meat – but be careful not to leave it out for too long.

In hot weather, you should cool food down at room temperature if you’re not going to eat it immediately – then refrigerate.

The NHS says, ‘If you’ve cooked food that you’re not going to eat immediately, cool it at room temperature (ideally within 90 minutes) and store it in the fridge.

‘Putting hot food in the fridge means it doesn’t cool evenly, which can cause food poisoning.’

Touching your phone, then touching your food

Barbecues are full of food you pick up with your fingers – which is bad news if you’ve been touching something filthy… like your smartphone.

Many people check their phones on the toilet, then pocket them – which makes food poisoning a real danger.

Speaking to SBS, Dr Anchita Karmakar says, ‘There are water and air particles that harbour in the little creases of the phone.

‘And phone covers and cases are usually made out of rubber, which is a warm and comfortable harbouring ground for bacteria.’

Overusing a disposable barbecue

Disposable barbecues are a gift from the Gods when it comes to a quick, easy barbie – but they’re not meant for the long haul.

If you keep them going, you risk food being half-cooked, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Having beansprouts in the salad

In America, raw and lightly cooked sprouts have been linked to more than 30 bacterial food poisoning incidents in the last 20 years.

Professor Tim Spector says, ‘The only greens I would always avoid are sprouted foods (bean sprouts, watercress) used in salads which you shouldn’t trust.

‘They are usually grown in a warm, moist environment where bacteria thrive.

‘Sprouts contaminated with E.coli caused the worst outbreak in modern history killing 51 Germans in 2011.’