Barbecue season has begun and Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would like to remind Canadians of steps they can take to avoid foodborne illness caused by bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.
Eating undercooked meat and other foods that have come into contact with raw meat can result in food borne illnesses. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Foodborne illness can be avoided by handling and cooking raw meat carefully.
Storing: Raw meat should always be stored in the refrigerator or cooler at 4°C (40°F) or below. If you are storing raw meat in coolers, make sure that it is packed with ice and the cooler stays out of direct sunlight and avoid opening it too often. Make sure to keep raw meat and other foods separate to avoid cross-contamination.
Clean: Remember to wash your hands and other utensils, like cutting boards, counters and knives, carefully with soap and warm water before and after handling raw meats. This helps avoid potential cross-contamination and prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
When you grill:
- Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat. Meat can turn brown before all bacteria are killed, so use a digital food thermometer to be sure.
- To check the temperature of meat that you are cooking on the barbecue, take the meat off the grill and insert the digital food thermometer through the thickest part of the meat.
- If you are cooking a beef hamburger, take the patty from the grill and insert the digital food thermometer through the side, all the way to the middle of the patty.
- If you're cooking more than one patty or pieces of meat, be sure to check the temperature of each of the pieces.
- Use clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meats from the grill. Remember to wash the thermometer in hot, soapy water between temperature readings.
- Always remember to keep hot food hot until you are ready to serve.