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Food poisoning prevention

Food poisoning prevention
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No matter how many days it gets you off work, nobody enjoys a bout of food poisoning. It’s not usually too serious and most cases don’t require medical treatment, but even if you’re generally fit and healthy, food poisoning is a nasty experience. According to the Food Standards Agency, over 500,000 cases of food poisoning are reported each year. Here’s how to help prevent your family from being affected.

Wash your hands

It is one of the earliest things to be drummed into us about food hygiene, yet you may be surprised at the number of people who still don’t wash their hands before they start to prepare a meal. Hands should be thoroughly washed before touching any food and also after handling raw food including meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. Obviously you’ll need to wash again if you use the toilet, blow your nose or stroke your pet.

Keep the kitchen clean

There’s no point in washing your hands then preparing the food on a dirty work surface. Make sure all worktops, chopping boards and utensils are thoroughly cleaned before use. Use different chopping boards for raw meat, cooked foods and vegetables. Damp washing up cloths offer an ideal environment for germs to thrive so was or change them regularly and let them dry before using them again.

Store food at the right temperature

At ideal temperatures, food poisoning germs can multiply every 10 minutes. This means that 1,000 germs can become 1,000,000 germs in less than two hours. Eurgh! For this reason it’s important to store foods at the right temperature. Dairy products, fresh foods, products with ‘use by’ dates and anything that says ‘keep refrigerated’ on the packaging should be stored in the fridge. Anything you’re not going to consume before the ‘use by’ date should be frozen to keep for a later date. Always be sure to cool cooked leftovers for no more than 90 minutes at room temperature before chilling or freezing them. Fridges should be kept below 5°C and freezers at -18°C.

Cross-contamination

Food poisoning preventionCross-contamination occurs when germs are passed from one food to another. This can happen through foods touching or dripping on each other or because the person cooking hasn’t thoroughly washed hands and surfaces. To avoid cross-contamination, you should keep ready to eat food on the top shelf of the fridge and raw meats on the bottom shelf, where they can’t drip onto other foods. Make sure that all food is stored in sealable containers to avoid touching.

Thoroughly cook food

Many cases of food poisoning are a result of food not being cooked properly. Check the packaging to see how long and at what temperature the product should be cooked and ensure that it is cooked through before serving. When cut into, the middle of the food should be piping hot with steam rising from it. Meats are not thoroughly cooked if the juices don’t run clear when pricked.

Notice ‘use by’ dates

While ‘best before’ dates come with a bit of leeway, ‘use by’ dates do not. Never eat food that has passed its ‘use by’ date (unless it has been frozen and you know it to be okay). Even if the food looks and smells fine, the chances of it containing food poisoning germs is pretty high.

 

 

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About Maria Brett

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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