Every year 120,000 extra cases of illnesses are recorded during the British summer.
So hygiene experts are concerned that our laid-back approach to BBQ hygiene is a key contributor to the 5.5 million cases of food poisoning, which cause 20,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths each year.
Seasonal stomach upsets could be linked as much to poor hand, surface and utensil hygiene as badly cooked meat, with new research revealing that nearly 50 per cent of people don’t wash their hands when preparing food, and 75 per cent of preparation surfaces are home to more bacteria than a sanitary bin.
With bacteria such as E. coli and Campylobacter being present on raw meats and poultry, we need to be particularly careful to avoid cross-contamination risks.
People often associate barbecue safety as being solely about cooking meat properly, and although that is important, poor hygiene of equipment and surfaces outdoors are significant factors when it comes to cross contamination and food poisoning.
So before firing up the grill this summer, here are some tips for safe and hygienic entertaining.
•It is important to avoid using dishcloths to clean where possible, as new research has revealed nine out of 10 are ‘heavily contaminated’ with bacteria such as E.coli.5.
• Almost half of frequently touched items and surfaces are contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria so it is essential that guests wash their hands when eating or handling food.
• Studies have found that E.coli can survive for over 28 days on stainless steel surfaces6 such as cooking utensils so it is important to keep them thoroughly clean.
• Remember to think about using separate tongs, cutlery and utensils when handling cooked and uncooked meat to prevent cross contamination between equipment.
Dr Lisa Ackerley,
Dettol hygiene expert.