This is the second of the four ‘Cs’ in regard to preventing food poisoning. It covers such areas as cooking food for the correct length of time and at the right temperature; checking that food is not undercooked or raw; following cooking instructions; and being careful when reheating food.

So what do you need to know about cooking in regard to preventing food poisoning?

This section refers to the cooking of food which includes sections about barbecuing and social events at home.

Bacteria such as e coli, salmonella and listeria cause food poisoning but can be killed during cooking. But any cooking needs to be done thoroughly for it to have this effect.

If it isn’t then these bacteria will thrive and go on to cause food poisoning.

This is especially important in the summer when there is an increase in the use of barbecues. This increase often coincides with an increase in the number of cases of food poisoning so avoid being the next statistic.


Ensure that any meat, poultry or fish cooked on a barbecue is cooked right the way through. It may be better to start it off by part cooking it in the oven before transferring it to the barbecue to finish off.

Cut into meat, fish or chicken to see if the centre is cooked through. If the centre is pink or red, or blood runs out then cook it for longer. Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of food.

Barbecued food should be steaming hot, any juices should run clear and it should not be pink or red in the middle. One exception to this is steak which can be served pink or red in the middle as long as their surfaces have been seared at a very high temperature.

Rare steak is popular but it must be cooked over a high heat to seal it and to kill off any bacteria. The outside surface will change colour once it has been completely sealed during cooking.

Make sure any foods which have been frozen are properly defrosted before use.

Ensure that the barbecue has reached the correct temperature before cooking. It should be glowing red when it is ready.

Turn food regularly on the barbecue and move it around to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly and evenly.

Keep raw food and cooked food away from each other. Use separate utensils, e.g. cooking tongs and do not put cooked foods onto plates which have held raw foods. Also keep raw meat away from salads, burger buns, finger rolls etc.

Social events at home

This includes inviting people around for dinner and large social events such as parties. In these situations you are likely to be cooking for more people then usual, and in the case of a party, for a large number of people.

This means that food safety and hygiene is even more important to prevent the risk of food poisoning.

Keep food outside of the fridge until the last possible moment. Avoid over-filling the fridge. If you are short of space then remove items such as bottles of beer or wine and store these in a cold dark place, e.g. garage, until you are ready.

Do not be tempted to cut short cooking times even if your preparation is taking longer than usual and you have guests waiting.

Make sure that all food is cooked for the right amount of time and thoroughly before serving it.

If you are eating outside or ‘al fresco’then keep food covered until you are ready to eat, use a cool box to keep it chilled and wash salads and fruit before consumption.

Leftover food

A word about leftover food: any food which has been cooked but is not eaten straight away needs to be allowed to cool before storing it.

Once it is ready to be stored then put it into a fridge but remember to eat it after a couple of days.

Food Poisoning Guide

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