Food safety advice at home
Good food hygiene practices in the home are important to prevent food poisoning. There are some simple ways to make sure you and your household store, prepare and cook food safety and hygienically.
At any time there could be millions of germs on your hands, some of which could be harmful to health and when spread could lead to food poisoning. Regular hand washing and a good hand washing technique can help eliminate the spread of the harmful germs.
You should always wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling food, after going to the toilet, after handling raw food such as raw meat, eggs and vegetables, touching animals and handling waste.
A video showing good hand washing technique can be seen on the NHS Choices website.
Always make sure that you clean your work surfaces before you start to prepare your food.
Dishcloths should be washed and dried before they are used to clean work surfaces. Damp dishcloths provide the perfect conditions for harmful bacteria to grow.
Instead of using a dish cloth to clean your work surfaces you could use kitchen roll which can be thrown away after it has been used.
In food businesses there is the expectation that a 2 stage clean is used. This means cleaning once to remove any dirt or grease with either hot soapy water or antibacterial detergent and then repeating for a second time with an antibacterial detergent to remove any bacteria. You can do the same in your home.
You should always ensure raw meat is stored separately from your ready to eat foods such as fruit, cooked meats and salad as these foods won’t be cooked before you eat them so any bacteria that contaminates them won’t be cooked.
Raw meat should be stored on the bottom shelf of your fridge. This will stop harmful bacteria dripping on to ready to eat foods.
You should never wash raw meat as the splashing water from the meat could spread the bacteria onto your hands and surrounding surfaces. When cooking the meat any blood will evaporate and bacteria will be killed.
Raw meat should be prepared on a separate chopping board to stop harmful bacteria getting onto ready to eat foods.
Always make sure work surfaces are cleaned and sanitised after preparing raw meat.
You should keep your fridge operating at 5oC or below to stop harmful bacteria from growing, ideally you should have a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is working correctly.
Avoid overfilling your fridge as if it is too full this could stop the air from circulating correctly making the fridge too warm.
You should always make sure that poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked thoroughly. They should not be pink in the middle and the juices from the meat should run clear.
As fruit and salad are grown in soil there is possibly harmful bacteria on the skin, therefore you should wash all fruit and salad before eating them.
You should never use food past the use by date as this is the date the manufacturer has guaranteed it is safe to eat. You can’t see or smell harmful bacteria, therefore even if it looks and smells alright it might still be unsafe to eat.
Best before dates are when the manufacturer guarantees the quality of the food, it will be safe to eat after this date but it may not be at it’s best.
Visit the Food Standards Agency website for tips on how to save money and reduce waste.
Raw foods such as vegetables can have harmful bacteria on the surface which can cause food poisoning. Harmful bacteria can also be found on the packaging of raw foods such as raw meat.
To minimise the risk of food poisoning put raw food into separate bags than your food which is ready to eat and doesn’t need further cooking. Make sure you wash your hands after handling raw food when you get home.
Visit the Food Standards Agency website for further advice on avoiding cross-contamination.