Avoid the pitfalls of cooking over coals with this 3 step guide to barbecuing.
Get ahead - Just as you would when cooking in the kithen, thoroughly defrost any frozen food in the fridge before you cook it.
Keep your cool - Sore all perishable foods (including meat, fish and salads) in the fridge untils it's time to eat. Keep ready-to-eat foods in a shady spot to stop them spoiling as quickly.
Safety first - Put your barbecue on flat ground, well away from trees, shrubs or any buildings. Keep children and pets away from it and never leave it unattended when lit.
Time it right - Leave plenty of time to preheat the barbecue. If you put meat over flames - rather than glowing coals - it won't cook evenly and is likely to be uncooked in the middle.
Be patient - When lighting a charcoal barbecue, use the minimum amount of firelighters or starter fuel on cold coals and wait for it to work. Never use petrol on a charcoal barbecue.
Keep it separate - Use different dishes and utensils for raw and cooked foods, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat. If you are hosting vegetarian or vegan guests, use separate utensils, and ideally cook meat-free food on a separate barbecue.
Avoid flare-ups - Lightly oil meat, fish or veg before barbecueing. This will stop it sticking to the grill and avoild excess oil causing flare-ups. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from catching.
Don't reuse marinades - To avoid cross contamination, never use leftover marinade as a sauce or glaze without cooking it first.
Check it - Meat that is charred on the outside isn't necessarily cooked in the middle. Check that juices run clear and there is no pinl meat when you cut into the thickest part. Burgers and sausages are different to steak and shouldn't be served rare or pink.