Urgent warning to anyone planning a BBQ this weekend


BRITS love a barbeque and even just a hint of sunshine will see many getting out their tongs this weekend.

But experts have warned those planning on cooking up a storm need to watch out for a certain type of poisoning that peaks in June.

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Brits have been warned to be vigilant when preparing food this weekend if they are having a barbequeCredit: Getty

Medics at the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University warned that campylobacter food poisoning is rife this time of year.

This is because, typically, June is relatively warm and many people buy poultry such as chicken to cook at barbeques.

You might think you’re doing the right thing washing your chicken, but experts say that cleaning raw chicken can spread the bug, splashing it onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment.

But it’s not just chicken – and the bug is also found in red meat – so you might also become ill from eating burgers or kebabs.

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The experts said that around 3,500 Brits are hospitalised with the illness each year, which is caused by campylobacter contamination.

Now they say more needs to be done in order to prevent people becoming ill, as antibiotic resistance against the bug is increasing.

Professor Matthew Goddard from the University of Lincoln said: “We can’t be sure why the UK has its peak of campylobacteriosis in May and June – it might be the warmer temperatures accelerating its growth or food-safety issues at barbecues.

“We do know the biggest risk is poor food hygiene, cross-contamination and undercooked meat – particularly, but not just, chicken.

“From reviewing evidence from around the world, we see that there is no single processing solution, type of farming, or public education intervention that can solve this.”

The Food Standard Agency (FSA) says that the majority of people who get the illness will recover quickly.

But that for some it can cause long-term and severe health issues such as kidney failure, seizures and hearing and visual issues.

Those most at risk are children under the age of five as they may have weaker immune systems.

The FSA said you can keep your family safe by chilling your food, cooking chicken correctly, avoiding cross contamination and ensuring good personal hygiene.

Experts at Oxford Martin said while the UK’s poultry industry has reduce the amount of chicken testing positive for campylobacter from 73 per cent in 2014 to 40 per cent in 2018 – cases of the illness have not followed suit.

How to avoid ampylobacter poisoning at home

The FSA says you can avoid cross-contamination by never washing chicken or letting raw chicken come into contact with ready-to-eat foods.

Good personal hygiene will also ensure that any bacteria you come into contact with wont pass on to your family and friends in their food.

When it comes to staying safe this weekend, you need to make sure chicken is cooked properly.

This means:

  • making sure the meat is steaming hot all the way through
  • non of the meat is thick when you cut into the thickest part
  • any juice run clear

When firing up the BBQ this weekend, remember the 4Cs:

  • cleaning – make sure where you are preparing food is clean and don’t use dirty dish cloths
  • chilling – store any food appropriately and follow instructions on packaging when it comes to defrosting
  • cooking – make sure you cook food thoroughly and follow instructions
  • cross contamination – use different utensils and chopping boards for different meats

Prof Goddard added: “We can’t be sure why the UK has its peak of campylobacteriosis in May and June – it might be the warmer temperatures accelerating its growth or food-safety issues at barbecues.

“We do know the biggest risk is poor food hygiene, cross-contamination and undercooked meat – particularly, but not just, chicken.

“From reviewing evidence from around the world, we see that there is no single processing solution, type of farming, or public education intervention that can solve this.”

Prof Goddard added that barbeques can be particularly dangerous – as it’s not a traditional way to cook food.

“Make sure your food is cooked properly, and be careful not to contaminate cooked meat with bacteria from raw meat – especially at barbecues where food at different stages of cooking might be on the same grill rack and handwashing facilities may be further away,” he added. 

Foodborne bacteria can also spread from pets to people and person to person.

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Always make sure that after handing or petting an animal that you wash and dry your hand properly.

Also ensure you clean your hands after going to the toilet.

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