Food Safety Advice

Safe Barbecuing

Every summer, four out of ten families will heat up the coals and pile on the sausages, burgers, chicken and steaks.  It is a great way to eat – but unfortunately it can also be a great way to get food poisoning. 

It is all about being aware of bacteria.  Bacteria are everywhere – on food, dirty hands, unwashed cooking equipment - and on flies, pets and other animals.  Most bacteria are harmless, but there are a few which can result in a nasty case of food poisoning or even serious illness.  Following a few simple rules will minimise the risk of an unhappy ending to the day:

  • Be clean. Keep your hands clean at all times; wash vegetables before you cook them and rinse  salads.  Keep your utensils clean and always use separate tools for raw and cooked meats.  Do not put cooked foods back into the container you used to bring them into the garden uncooked.  Make sure any helpers – including children – follow these rules too.
  • Defrost thoroughly. Always defrost frozen meats and poultry fully before cooking.  This means planning ahead and may mean getting foods out of the freezer the day before your barbecue.  Keep all perishable foods cool until you need to use them, either in the fridge or a cool box or bag with ice packs.
  • Cook thoroughly. Poultry, sausages, burgers and chopped or minced meats should always be cooked until they are piping hot throughout, the juices should run clear and there should be no pink bits.  Never eat them rare.  It is a good idea to pre-cook poultry just before barbecuing, and use the barbecue to add flavour and crispness.

Make sure you take care with the fire, use a sheltered, level site, away from anything that might catch fire.  Keep pets and children at a distance; use long handled equipment when handling hot coals, and keep a bucket of sand or water handy.  Let the coals burn through and go white before cooking, so that food cooks more slowly and the inside is cooked through before the outside gets burnt.

Hands spread bacteria

Some bacteria can stay alive on our hands for up to three hours and in that time they can be spread to all the things we touch, including food and other people. 

Did you know?

  • Up to half of all men and a quarter of women fail to wash their hands after they have used the toilet.
  • Right handed people tend to wash their left hand more thoroughly than their right hand, and vice versa.
  • We have between 2 and 10 million bacteria between fingertip and elbow.
  • Damp hands spread 1,000 times more bacteria than dry hands.
  • The number of bacteria on your fingertips doubles after you use the toilet.
  • Bacteria can stay alive on hands for up to three hours.
  • Millions of bacteria hide under watches and bracelets and there could be as many bacteria under your ring as there are people in Europe.

So, wash your hands regularly throughout the day and especially at these times:


  • Preparing food
  • Eating
  • Caring for the sick; changing dressings; giving medicines
  • Looking after babies or the elderly
  • Starting work, especially if you are a food handler or health professional
  • Putting in contact lenses


  • Handling raw foods (meat, fish, poultry and eggs) and touching any other food or kitchen utensils


  • Handling raw foods, particularly meat, fish and poultry
  • Going to the toilet
  • Touching rubbish/waste bins
  • Changing nappies
  • Caring for the sick, especially those with gastro-intestinal disorders
  • Coughing or sneezing, especially if you are sick
  • Handling and stroking pets or farm animals
  • Gardening, even if you wear gloves
  • Cleaning cat litter boxes


Food Premises Registration
All food business that are in West Somerset have to be registered with West Somerset Council.

Mobile Food Business
If you are intending to start or you already have a mobile food business, as well as needing to be registered for food, you will also need a Street Trading permit from the Licensing section.