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Preparing and cooking food safely

Preparing and cooking food safely
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You may be surprised (and somewhat troubled) to learn that research points to the kitchen as the room containing most germs within the average home. Yes, that’s right, even more germs than you’d find in the bathroom – yuck!

We all know that germs can spread quickly and that diseases like salmonella and E.coli are easily spread through food, but when you’re in a hurry it can be easy to skip over hygiene rules in favour of getting a meal on the table quickly. And for those of us who haven’t been taught the rules of the kitchen since compulsory Home Economics classes in school, it may be a case of not being aware of certain recommendations.

So what are the most important things we can do to keep kitchens clean and minimise the risk of someone falling ill through food prepared in the kitchen?

Wash your hands

Up there at the top of the list is plain old washing your hands. Think about everything you touch throughout the day – do you really want to transfer all of that onto your food? From handling telephone receivers to typing on manky keyboards and pulling door handles used by everyone, it’s obvious that our hands are going to pick up germs. Use soap and warm water to clean your hands before you start prepping food and again after touching raw meat or poultry.

Check labels

With the exception of fruit and vegetables, most foods will come with either a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date printed on the packaging. These give an indication of whether a product is still safe to eat or has gone off. Food that has passed its ‘best before’ date is usually fine to eat as the date refers to the quality of the product rather than the safety of eating it. However, food that has exceeded its ‘use by’ date may not be safe to eat and so should be discarded, even if it looks okay.

Separate food

Preparing and cooking food safelyRaw foods should be kept separate from food that has been cooked. In the fridge, store raw meats on the bottom shelf and keep uncooked food on a separate shelf from items like cheese or fruit, which don’t need cooked. Cooking removes many germs that can be present in food but as ready-to-eat foods don’t get cooked, you need to make sure they don’t get germs from other foods on them. You should also use a different chopping board for meats, raw foods and veggies.

Cooking

Follow the instructions to make sure food is cooked at the right temperature for the right length of time. Before eating, cut into the middle to make sure that the item is piping hot. For white meat, it’s also important to make sure there are no pink bits inside and that all the juices run clear. If you want to save cooked food to eat later, leave it to cool on the counter before putting it in the fridge. Placing hot food straight into the fridge can cause it to cool unevenly and potentially be become a source of food poisoning. Cooked food should only be reheated once.

Cleaning the kitchen

Once you’ve finished, it’s important to clean the kitchen thoroughly. Wash all dishes, cutlery and utensils carefully, keeping the dirty stuff away from the items you’ve just washed to avoid cross-contamination. Wash down the counter tops, sink, draining board and any chopping boards you might have used. Be sure to change cloths, sponges and tea towels regularly as they can be a breeding ground for nasty germs.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Maria Brett

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About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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