Long, balmy summer days are rare in Ireland, but when they come our way there is nowhere better. One of the best things is being able to light up the barbie so you can cook and eat in the garden with family and friends.
If you are coeliac, or have other food allergies or intolerances, having to avoid cross-contamination when at a barbecue, especially when you are not the host, can be a worry. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.
1. The barbecue itself: If you are hosting, and someone attending has coeliac disease, you must ensure that the barbecue is really well cleaned. It’s not safe to assume that high temperatures will destroy all traces of gluten. It’s best to get scrubbing with a wire brush. Simply mix baking soda with a little water into a paste, and use this to scrub the grate until clean, then just rinse off.
2. If your barbecue has a second grill, you can use the top grill for free-from foods, as juices from meats, burgers, etc., will drip onto foods below. If there is just one grill, then cook the free-from foods first and keep them warm in a separate container.
3. If you have not made your own burgers, sausages and other foods, check the labels to ensure that they contain no gluten or other allergen ingredients. This, of course, also applies to marinades, bottled sauces, relishes, chutneys, etc.
4. Wash your hands occasionally; it is such a simple thing to do and definitely helps avoid the spread of cross-contamination.
5. Make sure you have two sets of barbeque tongs, chopping boards, basting brushes, serving spoons, grill brushes, serving platters, etc. To avoid cross-contamination, you have to be vigilant, so labelling your free-from equipment is especially helpful if there are two to three people working the barbecue.
6. If you are the guest and not the host, you might bring along your own disposable barbecue, as they are inexpensive and will ensure safe cooking. This will also take some of the pressure off your host, especially if they are not familiar with the rules around gluten-free cooking, etc. Otherwise, ask if you bring your own meat, etc., or if they could leave a piece of meat aside and not marinate it. The same applies to salads.
7. If you have children with a food allergy or intolerance, have a chat with them beforehand, especially if you are attending a party. They probably know what not to eat if they are older, but little ones may need to be told only to eat what Mummy or Daddy give them.
8. Enjoy the summer and stay safe!