This is a guest post by Marin, BIC’s Technical Services Manager.
What Do Seat Belts and Barbecues Have in Common?
No, this is not the beginning of a funny joke.
Many Canadians enjoy Canadian beef from the barbecue year-round. But for others (like me!) barbecuing is a true summer activity, along with relaxing on the deck while enjoying our favourite drink or making the trip to the cottage for the long weekend.
However, warm weather raises the age-old question: How do I keep food and those who eat it safe in blistering heat?
Our friends at the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education have heaps of simple food safety tips for everyone.
They are all important. But if you pressed me to tell you what’s most important to keep in mind during the barbecue season, I would say:
- Clean: Washing your hands frequently in hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds. The last thing you want to do is touch raw meat and then handle burger buns without washing your hands.
- Separate: Use a clean plate for cooked food. The plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood belongs in the dishwasher. Similarly, having separate utensils for raw and cooked food also helps prevent cross-contamination.
- Cook: Please always use a digital instant-read food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and seafood has been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Watch our instructional video (Clever Cooking) and download a handy temperature chart. A good digital thermometer can be purchased for less than $15. But wait, what about cutting into the burger to see if it is still pink inside? It turns out meat scientists agree on this one: colour is a lousy indicator of doneness. For example, burgers can turn brown even before they are fully cooked! For more on this, check out the post on What you Need to Know for Summer Grilling.
- Chill: If the outside temperature is 26⁰C (80⁰F) or more, never leave food (including salads and fruit) out for more than 1 hour. If the weather is cooler, up to two hours is fine. Refrigerate all leftovers promptly. The recommended temperature for the refrigerator is 4⁰C (40⁰F). You can invest in an inexpensive appliance thermometer to test whether your refrigerator is cool enough.
Ok, by now some of you may be wondering whether this is really necessary. I’ve barbecued for years and I have never made anyone sick. And what about seat belts and barbecues mentioned in the title?
Well, food safety works a little bit like seat belts. See, I’ve been driving for well over a decade and the only accident I was involved in was a minor fender-bender (for the record, not my fault). So I would have been totally fine all these years without a seat belt (granted, I would have accumulated some hefty fines, demerit points and perhaps even lost my licence, but you get the idea). Yet everybody knows we are so much safer wearing a seat belt. The same goes for clean, separate, cook and chill tips.
Wishing you and yours a happy and safe barbecue season with Canadian beef!
Marin is BIC’s Technical Services Manager. He deals with matters such as food safety, quality and labelling. His sense of quality time has changed since he became a dad in May 2011. He still likes trying out new recipes or enjoying the occasional run along the Humber River.