It is one of life's oddities that we take a lot of trouble refrigerating meat, keeping food sealed and washing our hands before touching it, only to throw out the rule book when we have a barbecue. The meat is left out in the sun waiting it's turn to be cooked, exposed to the elements and there is no washbasin to be seen. Another oddity is that it is men that do most of the barbecue cooking: 7 out of 10 according to the American Dietetic Association (http://www.eatright.org) in a survey. They also found that only 44% of these men washed their hands when cooking at the barbecue. Shame on us men! Why is it that, more often then not, it is women who get to do the day-in, day-out drudgery cooking, while men suddenly muscle in for those special occasions? Is this right, or am I imagining it?
Anyway, back to food hygiene. I am not suggesting that we plumb washbasins into our back yards but I would suggest that at least the following two precautions are still maintained.
The first one is that, even though it can be difficult to arrange, it is an absolute necessity that cooked meats never come into contact with raw meats either directly or via utensils, plates, bowls, trays or cutting boards. This is a very easy mistake to make, especially if you are not the usual cook of the house.
The other precaution is to try to keep wasps and flies away. You may know that their main purpose in life is to spoil your barbecue by diving at you and your guests and depositing some nasty germs - from nearby rubbish tips or animal dung - onto your food; and there is always the risk of being stung by a wasp.
A little tip is to avoid wearing yellow, as they are attracted to it. Of course, if there is someone you don't like very much, you could make a point of inviting them, but telling them to wear only yellow clothes (just say it is part of a role-playing game you have laid on). The unwanted guest can act as a decoy, attracting all the wasps and flies, while the rest of you enjoy yourself.
As this is a particularly nasty thing to do to anyone, an alternative is to lay out some yellow objects in a circle around the barbecue area. For example, you could wrap 10 bricks in bright yellow paper and place them evenly in a circle at a radius of, say, 8 feet from the picnic/barbecue area. Drop some treacle on each. They will act as decoys and reduce the threat of wasps and flies.
An even better way is to save some time by buying a few fly & wasp traps from Arkay Hygiene at www.eeeee.co.uk As well as attracting wasps and flies, they will keep them trapped at least until you have finished your feast. Then you go and release them at your old boss's house.
Please note that Vernon has a wicked sense of humour and asks that you do not release any flying insects at anyone's house! Fly & Wasp Traps for the garden can be found at this page