GBA Rules

Download Rules   GBA Code of Conduct

Georgia Barbecue Association Rules for Barbecue Contest Participants. These rules are in effect for all GBA sanctioned contests.

1. CONTESTANT: A contestant is any individual, group, restaurant, etc. hereinafter referred to as a team that will prepare and cook an entry or entries for the purpose of being judged according to Georgia Barbecue Association (hereafter referred to as GBA) rules at a GBA sanctioned contest. Each team will consist of a head cook and as many assistants as required. The contest organizer of a GBA sanctioned contest may not cook in any category in that contest. No competing cook team member, nor immediate family member of a competing cook team, may enter the judging area at any time during the contest unless requested by the lead contest representative.

2. INTERPRETATION OF RULES: The interpretation of the GBA rules and regulations are those of the GBA Lead Representative at the contest and his or her decisions are final. The GBA Representative may not deviate from nor change any GBA rule for any contest for any reason.

3. EQUIPMENT: Each team will supply all of the equipment necessary for the preparation and cooking of their entry including a cooker, wood, charcoal, or wood pellets. No team may share a cooker or grill with any other team.

4. MEAT INSPECTION: All meats must be USDA or state DA inspected and passed. No pre-seasoning, pre-trimming,  injecting, marinating or cooking of any entry is permitted until after inspection by the Official Meat Inspector as appointed by the GBA Lead Representative. Meat inspection begins at the discretion of the Official Meat Inspector but, no later than noon on the day prior to the contest. All meat must be maintained at a maximum temperature of 40 degrees F prior to inspection. Prior to cooking all meat that is resting in preparation for cooking must be covered at all times. All meats must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. After cooking, all meat must be maintained at a minimum temperature of 140 degrees F in a covered container until turned in for judging. All contest meat – once inspected – may not leave the cook team’s site until turn in.

5. COOKING FUELS: The only approved cooking fuels are wood, charcoal or wood pellets. Gas (any type) or any electrical heating element may be used only to start the initial fire or to start burn barrels, charcoal chimneys, etc. A gas starter or flame or electrical heating element may not enter the cooker after the initial fire is started. Gas bottles must be disconnected from the cooker once the fire has started and must be removed from the immediate cooking area. A gas flame or electrical heating element may not be used as any part of the cooking process.

6. APPROVED COOKERS: Any cooker, homemade or commercially manufactured, will be allowed to compete in GBA contest. Only wood, charcoal, or wood pellet fired cookers are permitted. Electric or hand-operated rotisseries or rotating shelves are allowed.

7. CONTESTANT’S SITE: Each team will be assigned a cook site. All equipment including cooker, canopy, trailer, etc. must be contained within this space. If additional space is required, the team should contact the contest organizer and make satisfactory arrangements.

8. BEHAVIOR: Every team, including members and guests, are expected and required to exhibit proper and courteous behavior at all times. Failure to do so may result in disqualification or expulsion from the contest. Repeat offenders will be barred from competing in future GBA sanctioned contests. No alcoholic beverages will be distributed to the General Public. Teams will be informed of all local laws by the contest organizer and will adhere to same.

9. CLEANLINESS AND SANITATION: All teams are expected to maintain their cook sites in an orderly and clean manner and to use good sanitary practices during the preparation, cooking and turn-in preparation process. The use of sanitary gloves is required at all times while handling food. Failure to use sanitary gloves may result in disqualification. Teams are responsible for cleanup of their site once the competition has ended. All federal, state and local food safety rules and regulations must be adhered to at all times.

10. MEAT CATEGORIES:  The following categories are sanctioned by the GBA.

a. Pork Ribs: Loin back, baby back or spare ribs only. No country style ribs.

b. Pork Loin: May be bone in or bone out, Must weigh 5 pounds or more at inspection. Loin must be cooked as a single piece of meat

c. Pork: Whole shoulder, Boston butt, Picnic or Whole ham. Must be cooked as a single piece of meat.

11. JUDGING: GBA sanctioning allows for blind judging only. Entries will be submitted only in the 9” x 9” container provided by the contest organizer with no garnish or decorating of any kind. Only the entry to be judged is allowed in the container. Marking of any kind will disqualify the entry. Each entry will be judged on APPEARANCE, TENDERNESS, TASTE and OVERALL IMPRESSION. Meat may be sauced or unsauced.

12. SCORING: Each entry will be scored by six ( 6 ) GBA certified judges in the areas of APPEARANCE,TENDERNESS, TASTE and OVERALL IMPRESSION. The judge with lowest, weighted total score is  dropped. Scoring for Appearance, Tenderness and Taste range from a low of seven ( 7 ) to a high of ten ( 10 ). The scoring for Overall Impression ranges from 9.1 to 10.0 in 0.1 increments. Using a weighted average, the maximum score for a category is 600 points.

13. DISQUALIFICATION: An entry may be disqualified by the GBA Lead Representative only and may occur at any time during the judging process. An entry may be disqualified for any of the following reasons:

A. There is evidence of marking or sculpting. Marking is defined as; any handwritten or mechanically made mark inside or outside the turn-in box that identifies the submitting team to any judge. Sculpting is defined as; the carving, decorating, forming or shaping of a meat entry contained in a turn-in box that identifies the submitting team to any judge.

B. There is anything in the box besides the meat.

C. There are not a minimum of six (6) separate and identifiable pieces.

D. There is evidence of blood such that the meat is undercooked.

E. The entry is turned in after the officially designated time.

F. Gloves are not used while handling food products.

G. Not cooking pork as a single piece of meat.

H. Not cooking the meat that was inspected.

I. Pooling or puddling of sauce.

14. JUDGING PROCEDURE:  The GBA uses comparative judging. All the boxes are grouped randomly, brought to the table, and placed in sequential order. After the judges are seated, the boxes are opened and all judges score the boxes for appearance. When all judges have scored for appearance, judging for tenderness and taste begin. The overall impression is scored after the other three criteria have been scored. A GBA representative will collect the score cards.

15. WINNERS: The top three scores in each category will be judged again by a panel of six final judges.The judge with lowest, weighted total score is  dropped.  Each of these teams will be notified of their selection as a finalist as soon as possible. The final judges will select the FIRST, SECOND and THIRD PLACE in all categories and from the first place winners select the GRAND CHAMPION.

16.  TURN IN TIMES: Each meat category turn in time will allow for a 15 minute window for preliminaries and a 5 minute window for finals. Turn in times for all contests shall be as follows:

PORK LOIN             9:45 – 10:00
PORK                        10:45 – 11:00
RIBS                          11:45 – 12:00

PORK LOIN            1:25 – 1:30
PORK                       1:55 – 2:00
RIBS                         2:25 – 2:30

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