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Be a barbecue pro

HealthBy Sunday World
Be a barbecue pro

It's that time of year again - the temperatures outside are soaring, you're sweating after four steps and all the water in the world isn't enough to cool you down. Yep, we're talking about summer.

When it's hot we're quick to get the barbecues and picnic sets out but if we're not careful, we could end up with stomach bugs while cooking and eating outside.

To make sure you have a tasty burger from the grill that won't make you ill, here are some tips as advised by experts to Mail Online.

Cook your meats through

Sure, a steak can be served raw (or blue, if you're feeling fancy). This is because a majority of the bacteria is located on the outside of the meat, so as long as it's sealed, you're safe. The same can't be said for beef mince and pork sausages though and both need to be cooked thoroughly.

"Beef burgers, when the steak is minced, can have bacteria spread throughout the burger, so bacteria can be alive and well when the burger is served," John Oxford, emeritus professor of virology at Queen Mary College, London, explained.

"The best way to check that your meat is properly cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Meat should be at least 72c on the inside."

Clean utensils

After touching a lot of uncooked meat, your barbecue utensils need more than a quick rinse. They require proper cleaning with hot water, as does your barbecue grill. Dr Lisa Ackerley of the Royal Society of Public Health has severe warnings about what can build up if not washed correctly.

"Studies have found that E. coli can survive for more than 28 days on stainless steel surfaces such as cooking utensils, so keep them thoroughly clean," the environmental health practitioner advises, recommending grease-cutting products.

If you do choose to use a disposable barbecue, you can simply throw it away. But be careful and wait until the coals are ash grey and not flaming, as these will simply char the outside of the meat without making it edible on the inside. Also keep things to a minimum on these, as they lose heat quickly if food is piled on.

Ice packs at the top

When packing your picnic hamper or cool bag, if using ice packs, make sure they're at the top of the bag to allow them to do they're job. Cold meats, dairy and fish paste in sandwiches should be kept in here, and the lower down they are kept away from the heat, the less likely they are to be hit by bugs.

Don't over-pack your bag either, as you need the ice packs to circulate cold air, and if everything is squashed together it defeats the object.

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