Uh-oh! A bit of news came out today that is sure to be of interest to us barbecue lovers, although hopefully it won’t put you off them for good (we’ll get to what to do in a moment). The Daily Mail, while not exactly 100% reliable, is reporting that the average British barbecue contains twice as many germs as a toilet seat. Crikey! That’s not exactly a nice thought when you’re trying to eat some half burnt sausages, is it?
The news comes from ‘one of the UK’s leading food safety experts’ Dr Lisa Ackerley. She’s done some tests on barbecue grills, hopefully not while using the opportunity to cook up some burgers at the same time, and found that the typical outdoor barbecue grill contains a whopping 1.7 million microbes per 100cm sq. That’s a lot of the little nasty critters buzzing around in there, making it the mankiest surface in the garden with 124% more bacteria than your average toilet seat.
So, while your barbecue may look clean to the naked eye it’s actually harbouring some pretty nasty things. The high levels of microbes contained in such a small space can lead to e-coli, salmonella and listeria – three things that you definitely don’t want to end up giving to your barbecue guests. They’re not exactly going to thank you for the severe vomiting and diarrhoea it can cause!
These high levels are down to the idea that most British people aren’t cleaning the garden as well as they should be doing. While 71% say they clean the kitchen table every day, with 42% doing the same with the toilet seat, only 28% clean their garden table and 36% clean their barbecues. This is obviously something that can be vastly improved upon. So, what can you do to keep it clean?
We’re not saying you have to pop outside every day and clean your barbecue as that would be pointless. Instead you need to make sure you clean it before you begin using it, and the same goes for when you’ve finished using it. Don’t make the excuse that you’ll clean it next time you want to use it, in the meantime your barbecue will be turning into a bacteria paradise that will be harder to scrub clean when you eventually get around to doing it.
You can make the argument that the heat will kill the bacteria anyway, but it’s best to be doubly sure; why would you cook on a dirty barbecue that still has food stuck to it anyway? Simply do the following:
- Spray your barbecue with disinfectant and wipe down thoroughly. Remember to wear gloves!
- Wipe down the grill with cooking oil to prevent food from sticking.
Once you’ve finished using your barbecue, and hopefully served up some of the nicest barbecue food you and your guests taste buds will ever experience – or on the other hand some of the blackest sausages you’ve ever experienced – do this:
- Once the barbecue has cooled down you can slip out the metal grills and put them in the dishwasher. No dishwasher? No problem; just put them in the sink instead and wash in warm soapy water. If there’s any stubborn food sticking to it use a mild abrasive cleaner and leave it to soak for a while (make sure you wear gloves whilst handling it).
- If you have a charcoal grill make sure you wipe all the charcoal remnants and dust out of the bottom when you empty it. You can use a wire brush to do this (like this one) and help clear away any food remnants too, before washing the surface down.
- Make sure you wipe down the outside of the barbecue too with disinfectant and a moist cloth. You’ll have been touching the surface quite a bit while cooking, especially if you’re lifting a lid up all the time.
You can read more barbecue cleaning tips in one of our previous blog posts. We also offer a range of barbecue cleaning gear to get you going and stop you from more or less cooking on a toilet seat.