• BBQ Hygiene in the garden

    Is your Garden Hygienic?

    Is your Garden Hygienic for Summer?

    Well summer is here isn’t it? Are we sturdy Brits going to pretend it’s nice and warm this weekend and get out in the garden? But before you do, have a quick think about what may be lurking on the BBQ and patio, chairs and tables and spend a few minutes making sure that it is safe for your family and friends. We are not talking about getting a sterile garden of course – that would be ridiculous, but here are some pointers of where a bit of cleaning at the right time in the right place may just help prevent illness if you are intending to eat outside.

    Garden Hygiene Survey

    We carried out a snapshot survey for Jeyes Fluid to identify hygiene hot-spots in the garden, and found high levels of bacteria on BBQ  preparation areas (not grills). Furthermore, outdoor tables were also high on the hygiene black-list, together with bin handles. Interestingly, some of the items with the highest numbers of bacteria actually looked clean.

    So what’s the problem you may ask? Well whilst we would expect the garden to be dirtier than the home, these days many of us use our outdoor space as an extension to our kitchens, eating out on the patio and cooking on the BBQ. So whilst a recent Food Standards Agency survey found that 71% of us clean the kitchen table daily, the Jeyes study found it rarely happens outside- twice a year if we are lucky!

    What’s the Risk?

    Think about the creatures that may be sharing your garden – from nice fluffy domestic animals to rats, mice, birds and foxes, who will be leaving urine and faeces not only on the flower beds, but possibly on the tables, chairs and BBQs. I know that my garden table has been splattered a number of times by a wretched pair of pigeons who like to sit in a tree – so I have actually had to relocate my table!

    Poo is not just a nuisance, it is potentially harmful. Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli could be present along with many other bacteria and parasites. If these bacteria are transferred to hands or directly on to food, they could cause serious illness, for example, Campylobacter causes diarrhoea which can last several weeks and lead to further complications and some strains of E. coli can lead to kidney failure, paralysis and even death.

    Quick Tips for a Safe Garden

    • Clean your garden table before you use it for dining with an anti-bacterial cleaner to remove deposits and kill bacteria
    • Clean the BBQ sides and preparation areas to remove food deposits and anything else that may be lurking
    • Make sure children wash their hands before eating – you could use an anti-bacterial hand gel if their hands are not visibly dirty, but if they are very dirty, soap and water is needed!
    • After putting out the rubbish, wash your hands
    • Recycle old towels or shirts to use as cloths to clean outside areas – you can throw them away afterwards

    Safe BBQs

    • Use anti-bacterial hand gel to keep hands hygienic if you have touched raw meat or chicken
    • Try not to touch raw meat and poultry – place on the BBQ with your utensils, and then flame the tongs in the BBQ to kill bacteria on them so they are safe when you take the cooked food off
    • Never serve burgers rare
    • Cook foods to 75 °C in the centre. A cheap probe thermometer will tell you when it is done
    • Don’t use the same plate that had the raw meat on it to put the cooked meat on – you will be transferring bacteria!
    • If you cook meats and poultry first inside, you can just finish off on the BBQ and don’t need to worry about whether they are cooked enough or that you may get cross-contamination.
    • “Image credits: Carnivore Style

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  • The curious case of the barbecue and the toilet seat. | The Occam's Typewriter Irregulars says:Reply
    7th June 2013 at 11:28 am

    […] work of Dr Lisa Ackerley, “one of the UK’s leading food safety experts”. I assume Dr Lisa, as she likes to be called, didn’t do the legwork herself. I imagine she sent one of her minions to do the spying on […]

    • Gabi Smith says:Reply
      18th June 2013 at 9:03 am

      Hi Philip,

      We were very interested to read your blog on this issue. Unfortunately we can't control what newspapers publish after a press release is sent out, however we do stand by the comment that use of a disinfectant could significantly reduce any risks. Whichever disinfectant brand you use, it is important to clean any food preparation surface and eating area before use, especially if those areas have been potentially exposed to wild animals as barbeques and garden tables may have been.

      The Hygiene Doctor