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 BBQ, especially when you are not the host, can be a worry. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.

  1. The bbq itself: If you are hosting and someone attending has coeliac disease you must ensure that the BBQ 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.
  1. If your BBQ has a 2nd 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Wash your hands occasionally. It is such a simple thing to do and definitely helps the spread of cross contamination.
  1. Make sure you have 2 sets of BBQ 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 specially helpful if there are 2-3 people working the BBQ.
  1. If you are the guest and not the host you might bring along your own disposable BBQ, as they are inexpensive and will ensure safe cooking. This will also take some of the pressure off your host, specially 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.
  1. If you have children with a food allergy or intolerance, have a chat with them beforehand, specially if you are attending a party. They probably know what not to eat if older, but little ones may need to be told only to eat what mummy or daddy gives them.
  1. Enjoy the summer and stay safe!