Experts warn of food poisoning risk if a grill isn't cleaned thoroughly

Many of us fail to give our BBQs as much care as we should, and don't know about a simple trick to kill bacteria

(Image credit: Getty)

Nothing says summer like warm evenings and the smell of a BBQ wafting through the air. You just can't beat a burger hot off the grill in a soft bap, but experts are warning of the increased hygiene risk posed when we don't give our BBQs a serious clean.

  • How to BBQ – get it right and enjoy delicious barbecued food every time

If your grill isn't heated back up again after cooking, lingering bacteria puts you and your guests at risk of food poisoning. 

bbq under a pergola in a garden

(Image credit: Getty)

'We all love to enjoy some deliciously grilled steak and chicken,' says Emily Perez from Kitchen Infinity. 'However, what most people fail to understand is that there is a high risk of food-borne illnesses or poisoning through poor hygienic practices.'

Many of us are guilty of reusing grills multiple times without cleaning them as thoroughly as we would clean our best cookware set in the kitchen. This causes pieces of food, beef, bread, and other food crumbs to get stuck to grills. 

Left unattended, such grills will attract flies, insects, and animals which may introduce different bacteria and microbes to the grill's surface.

'Eating food from these grills transfer harmful microbes into our system, leading to bloating, gastric disorder, diarrhoea, vomiting, and so on,' Emily says. 

empty bbq being heated up

(Image credit: Getty)

The main problem caused by grills that aren't cleaned properly is mold, according to Charlie from Simply Meat Smoking. 'Mold on the grill can be really harmful if isn’t fully removed before you cook up your delicious BBQ feast.' 

Charlie recommends super-heating your grill or smoker after you've finished cooking, adding fresh coals to get the temperature back up. This will burn off all the food residue that will have built up throughout your cooking session.

BBQ with ingredients in a large garden

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Chef Glenn Rolnick, Director of Culinary Operations at Virgil's Real Barbecue recommends pre-heating your best BBQ, covered, for 5-10 minutes to stop bacteria build-up. 'Do the same after you are finished to ease the brushing of the grates and burn off any food that can turn to bacteria,' he says.

Get a head start with alfresco proceedings with our guide on how to light a BBQ. Because while rule number one is having a clean, germ-free BBQ, rule number two is making sure guests aren't left waiting hours before they can tuck in.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.