It may be a national pastime, but the humble barbie could be a health disaster if not done properly.
Keep meat in the fridge until you're ready to cook; meat enters a "danger zone" for bacteria whenever it gets between five and 60 degrees.
Cook at lower temperatures, since cancer-causing chemicals are created when food is grilled at temperatures above 150 degrees. With charcoal or wood fires, wait and cook over the white embers or bank the fire onto the sides of the barbecue. Flip meat every one to two minutes.
Pre-cook meats in a microwave for two minutes and drain the liquid to reduce the level of HCAs in the meat and cut time on the barbecue.
Cook poultry, minced meats, sausages and other pre-prepared meats until well done and the meat juice runs clear.
Use marinades. A chemist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California found a marinade of extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt and brown sugar reduced carcinogenic compounds by more than 90 per cent. The University of Hawaii found a teriyaki sauce and another with turmeric and garlic also worked.
Use low-fat meats, as they have less fat drippings. Fish is low in fat and so requires less cooking time, reducing its exposure to carcinogens.
Don't pack food for a picnic if it has just been cooked and is still warm. The Food Safety Information Council says eskies and cold bags can't cool food enough to prevent bacteria growing.
Grill meats that aren't fully thawed. They will char on the outside before the inside is cooked- a recipe for carcinogens and food poisoning.
Leave your barbecue dirty. Scrape remaining food off the barbecue while it's on a low heat, then clean with warm, soapy water. Rinse and apply vegetable oil (not extra virgin olive oil) over the surfaces.
Prick meat with a fork; it makes juices and fat run out and causes flare-ups.
Let raw meat come into contact with cooked or prepared food such as salads. Put meats in the bottom of the fridge or cold bag so there's no risk of meat juices dripping onto salads or other foods. Use separate tongs for raw and cooked meat.
A meat thermometer ensures the internal temperature of meat reaches a safe 75 degrees.
Disinfectant wipes are useful when there are no hand-washing facilities.
A drip tray lined with aluminium foil and barbecue soak or clay-type kitty litter prevents flare-ups from fat or juices.