Observe Food Safety during Barbecue


  Crisp fall days are great time for barbecue. However, food poisoning can occur if food is not handled properly during preparation or grilling. The public are advised to be aware of the following tips to ensure food safety while enjoying the fun of barbecue.


Preparation for Barbecue

1. Shopping

  • Purchase food from licensed and reputable vendors with good hygiene practices;
  • Check the storage temperature inside the fridge, which should be between 0-4; and the freezer, which should be kept at -18ºC or below;
  • Make sure that raw food is placed separately from other food;
  • Do not buy food that appears abnormal or with foul smell;
  • Do not purchase frozen food with signs of melting. Chilled food should be stored below 5 in refrigerating equipment;
  • Check the date of manufacture and expiry date on the package;
  • Pick up frozen or chilled foods immediately before checkout to make sure they are well-kept under a low temperature.

2. Store properly

  • Fresh, chilled or frozen food that is not for immediate consumption should be kept refrigerated as soon as possible;
  • Keep food in lidded containers before storing it in a refrigerator, and follow the “Cooked food above, raw food below” principle;
  • Pay attention to the storage temperature of refrigerator, chill temperature should be below 5 and freezing temperature at -18 or below;
  • Food that does not need to be kept at low temperature, such as canned food, dried foodstuff and soft drinks, should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place to avoid exposure to direct sunlight.

3. Handle carefully

  • All food should be cleaned before handling, especially seafood;
  • Defrost frozen food completely, either in the lower compartment of a refrigerator or under running water for no longer than two hours;
  • Do not defrost frozen food at room temperature;
  • Use separate sets of utensils for handling raw food and cooked food to avoid cross-contamination;
  • Food should be placed immediately in a refrigerator below 5 after the marinating process;
  • Clean the tableware and grilling utensils, such as grilling racks and grilling forks, thoroughly before barbecuing.

4. Before Setting Off on a Barbecue

  • Clean the grill utensils, like BBQ grills and grill forks, thoroughly;
  • Use a cooler box to keep the food at a low temperature. (Upon arrival at your destination, the cooler should be placed in a cool and dry place. Keep the cooler closed as often as possible to prevent the rise of its storage temperature).

During Barbecue

  • Wash your hands properly before and after food consumption or handling;
  • In case one participates in activities or plays games during the meal, remember to wash hands thoroughly before eating;
  • Place the grilled food on clean plates and utensils;
  • Food should be grilled thoroughly until its core temperature reaches 75°C or above; 
  • Food, like chicken wing, beef steak, pork chop, sausage and meatball, must be grilled thoroughly until their juice is no longer pink and the inside of the meat is no longer bloody when cut;
  • Eat the grilled food as soon as it is ready and do not leave it at room temperature for over 2 hours.

Does eating barbecued meat pose higher cancer risk?


  Studies have shown that carcinogenic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when barbecuing meat. The public should be aware of the following advices to minimise the risk of excessive intake of PAHs:

  • Trim visible fat of meat before barbecuing;
  • Avoid direct contact of food with flames or fat from dripping onto the heat source;
  • Grill food until it is thoroughly cooked, and avoid overcooking food for too long;
  • Flip the food so that the heat is evenly distributed all over the food to prevent charring;
  • Remove any burnt portions before consumption;
  • Food can be wrapped in foil to avoid contamination from smoke and flame.

  Lastly, it is important to maintain a balanced diet while enjoying barbecue. Eat more vegetables with high dietary fiber and do not overindulge in meat, particularly meat with skin and sausages, which contain higher level of fats. Choose lean meat or remove the skin and fat from meat to reduce fat intake.