Skip to content

Top BBQ food safety tips


Always cook BBQ meat to 75° Celsius and keep perishable food in the fridge until you need it.

If you're having a BBQ remember to keep the hot food hot, the cold food cold, and make sure your meat is cooked all the way through.

Before you start

If this is your first time barbecuing this year, give your BBQ grill a good clean.

  • Scrub the metal rack with an oven cleaner or a damp brush dipped in bread soda.
  • Rinse it well with hot, soapy water afterwards.

Keep your cool

Food is out of your fridge for longer when you are cooking and eating outdoors. This can lead to harmful bacteria multiplying quickly.

  • Keep perishable foods like salads, coleslaw and quiche in the fridge until you need them.

Before you start cooking

  • Make sure frozen foods are fully thawed before you start cooking them. The best way to do this is to take them out of the freezer the night before and defrost them on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Keep foods you plan to cook properly chilled in the fridge or a cool box until you need it.
  • Light your barbecue well in advance. For charcoal BBQs, the flames should have died down before you start cooking.

Wash your hands

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods like salads.
  • Always use separate utensils for handling raw and cooked meat when cooking.
  • Never put cooked food on a dish that has been used for raw meat or poultry.
  • Keep food covered whenever possible.

Cook with confidence

  • The big issue when barbecuing is making sure your food has been cooked thoroughly, all the way through.
  • This is particularly important with poultry, pork, minced and skewered meat, such as burgers, sausages and kebabs. While the outside may look cooked (and in some cases burnt), the inside can still be raw.
  • If you’re hosting a BBQ for lots of people, you can pre-cook meat in your kitchen oven just before you put it on the grill for flavour.

How to know when your BBQ meat is cooked

  • Turn the food regularly and move it around the grill to ensure it is cooked evenly on all sides.
  • For meats that need to be cooked all the way through, cut into the centre of them to check that:
    • They are piping hot all the way through
    • There is no pink meat left
    • The juices run clear
  • If you have a meat thermometer you can check the meat is safe to eat by inserting a clean thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat or poultry and checking the temperature has reached 75°C.
  • Steaks or whole joints of beef or lamb can be served rare as long as they are cooked on the outside. Any harmful bacteria will be on the outside only, and not in the centre.

Mind the marinade

  • Make sure any marinade used on raw meat is not then used as a sauce to coat vegetables or cooked meat. It will contain raw meat bacteria!
  • If you want to use marinade as a sauce, cook it in a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil before serving it.

Using BBQ leftovers

  • If you have any leftovers, don't leave them outside. They could be in the sun and insects and animals could get at them.
  • As with all leftovers, cover them and allow them to cool down in a cool place (your kitchen).
  • Put the BBQ leftovers in the fridge within two hours of cooking them and use them within three days.
  • If you’re reheating BBQ leftovers, reheat them only once until piping hot.
  • If in doubt, throw them out.


Related pages


Safefood Logo

Sign up for our latest healthy eating and recipe updates.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.

Confirm