Can I be sued for bad food?

Guests get violently ill! Food poisoning is no joke. Yes, you could be sued for pain, suffering and loss of income. Of course, the circumstances would have to be that you were negligent and caused the injury through your negligence. Your home insurance would address this claim but it is always better to avoid a loss.

What should you be doing to keep people safe when they are eating outdoors? Some of the things you should always consider include:

  • Food preparation for marinades for meat and salads should be done in advance. These items should be stored in the fridge in proper food storage containers in advance of being used. This way you can mix and use quickly thus reducing time for any adverse effects.
  • Get the barbecue lit well in advance. If you are using charcoal do not skimp with the amount. Wait for the coals to reach a glowing red with a powdery grayish surface. There should not be any flames when you start to cook the food on the grill.
  • Keep all perishables such as salads or meats in the fridge or in a plastic bag with ice packs in a cooler until just before you will cook or serve them.
  • Salads should be the last thing put out on the table.
  • When cooking on coals turn the meat often. If the outside starts to cook too quickly then reduce heat or raise the grill height. I know, steaks are only supposed to be turned the once so you need to get the heat exactly right!
  • Pork, poultry, hamburgers, and sausages should be cooked right through without any pink in the middle. You can pre-cook these items on the stove or in the oven and then barbecue just to add flavor and heat through again.
  • Separate raw and cooked food. Don't let them touch each other! This applies to the utensils and the plates. This is very important.
  • Use covers or netting to keep bugs out of the food. It it is dusty outside then cover food completely.
  • Remember to put any leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.

Warn your guests if there is a nut-based dish such as a peanut satay. It doesn't hurt to ask if there are any dietary concerns so you can tell the diabetic or the lactose intolerant guest about which dishes they should avoid. Try to have a wide range of dishes and it is okay to suggest that someone bring a dish suited to their specific food needs.

Remember, that when you invite a guest into your home you have a responsibility to keep them safe. When doing any food preparation be sure to use clean utensils and fresh products. The old line, "if in doubt, throw it out" still holds true.