Campylobacter is still at large – so be prepared in BBQ season
Summer is here (well in theory) and the BBQs come out, but in the light of the recent findings that Campylobacter is still likely to be present in over 70% of raw chicken, what can we do to ensure that we are not serving up a dose of food poisoning to friends and family?
First of all, let’s think about how you can infect someone – bear in mind that Campylobacter is infectious in very small doses:
- If you contaminate your hands with raw chicken, and then make up a wrap with cooked chicken, you could be passing the organism on in the ready-to-eat food. Your friends may not realise it was you that did it – they may not be ill for a couple of days, and it is possible that one slip up only affected one person, so no-one would associate the BBQ with their illness.
- By putting raw chicken on a platter, cooking it and then putting it back on the original platter – you have caused classic cross-contamination – everyone could be ill!
- When chicken isn’t cooked all the way through – for example cooked too much on the outside and underdone in the middle – this is a recipe for disaster as bacteria could survive!
- Using the same utensils to put the raw chicken on the BBQ as to taking the cooked chicken off could give you more cross-contamination.
So what can you do?
Remove the problem
In our household, we have taken to making life easier and stress-free when it comes to chicken. Now we poach the chicken pieces first – chicken thighs are our favourite as they are really tasty. Gordon Ramsay gave us the idea. Basically cook the chicken in stock (use the stock for another dish later e.g. Risotto) and then cover the chicken with a BBQ rub such as piri piri. Finish off on the BBQ – no need to worry about cross-contamination or under cooking – all that is done in the kitchen where it is a lot safer.
If you need to delay between poaching and finishing on the BBQ then make sure you cool the chicken quickly and keep in the fridge. To do this, place on a pre-cooled metal tray (put it in the fridge first) with some space between the pieces and get it in the fridge when it has stopped steaming – about an hour. Lightly cover whilst cooling to make sure it doesn’t get flies landing on it. I have some brilliant mesh domes which collapse when not in use like an umbrella.
If you want to cook from fresh
- Keep anything that has had raw meat on it separate to cooked foods or ready-to-eat foods
- Have a pack of anti-bacterial wipes for your hands at the ready, and some surface wipes as well
- Flame the tongs after putting raw meat on the BBQ leave the ends of the tongs