Health Unit Offers Tips For Safe Backyard BBQ

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As Londoners get ready to fire up the grill for backyard Canada Day barbecues, the Middlesex London Health Unit is warning about the dangers of improper food preparation.

In a news release issued on Thursday, the health unit says it does take a measure of care and attention to avoid getting sick at outdoor cookouts.

“It’s critical that food prepared outdoors stays in the proper temperature zone. That means making sure meat is kept cool until it’s ready to go on the grill; and that once it’s there, that it is cooked thoroughly,” says Tristan Squire-Smith, manager of the infectious disease control team at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “Around this time every year, we see a spike in the number of cases of E. coli, salmonella and other enteric illnesses.”

To avoid contracting a food-related illness the health unit advises those hosting backyard barbecues to keep meat cool until it’s ready for cooking, wash all fruit and vegetables before serving, and place leftover food in a fridge immediatly after the meal is complete. Health officials also say any fork, knife, tongs, or plates that come into contact with raw meat should not be re-used on cooked meat, or for serving.

Food contaminated with E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella or other pathogens may not look or smell spoiled. Symptoms of infection include stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone who experiences these or symptoms or severe stomach pain or bloody diarrhea, should see a doctor.

More information on safe food preparation can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website