I had a fit when my husband said he never washes the tongs spatula or meat fork after cooking on the outside barbeque grill. He just let's them hang out there dirty (ugh) & uses them again without washing. Please help me explain to him why that is not only gross but dangerous.
You know I attended the BBQ Camp at Texas A&M, which was sponsored by Foodways Texas and conducted by the faculty of the Meat Science Department, and the first module of the workshop was food safety. One of the faculty discussed an experience he had when he was invited to a friends house for dinner. His host made steaks on the grill and carried the uncooked steaks to the grill on a plate, and when he finished he put the cooked steaks back on the same plate. Bad idea, exposing cooked food to a surface contaminated with raw juices.
Leaving the tongs and/or forks in an unclean state is very similar. While there may not be as big a risk in handling or placing raw foods onto the grilling surface, since they will be exposed to the germ killing temperature while cooking, there is a problem in handling the cooked foods with the utensils that have been exposed to raw foods and may have remnants of older bacteria. In addition a bigger problem occurs when using a fork, as the fork pierces the skin and can carry bacteria inside the meat which may or may not reach a germ killing temperature.
So clean your utensils, clean your dishware, avoid cross contamination, and keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
I stuck a food safety link to the Texas A&M website for more information. Cheers.