Food Safety - Tips and Hygiene Guide
Follow the first aid safety hygiene guide on food safety. These three simple tips on food safety and kitchen hygiene reduces your risk of developing stomach illnesses and health problems such as bacterial infections, food poisoning, and diarrhoea.
The importance of using good food safety and sanitation is often overlooked but our guide on food selection, preparation, and cooking will help you avoid a range of sicknesses from mild indigestion to life-threatening campylobacter, salmonella, and listeriosis.
1. Choosing Perishables and Non-perishables
Almost all food produce is categorised as perishable or non-perishable. Examples of perishable food includes vegetables, dairy products, fresh fruits, fish, meats, eggs, and poultry. Cereals, pastas, canned foods, and some other items that do not need refrigeration are non-perishables.
Perishable foods generally spoil faster in the summertime so you could use a cooler during transportation from the supermarket to your storage area.
Good food safety begins by choosing your produce with long expiry dates and carefully checking meats, fish, and poultry for unusual colouring or bad odour.
Avoid ground beef that is brown or not completely red
Fresh fish should have clear eyes not milky
Grade A or AA clean eggs are best and check they are not broken
Fruit with broken skin allows bacteria to enter
Unpasteurized juice and drinks often contain high levels of bacteria
Avoid buying pre-stuffed poultry products
2. Storage, Refrigeration, and Cooking
The next step in food hygiene is storing or refrigerating it appropriately to reduce contamination. It is best to store or freeze your food without delay to maximise the defence from bacteria growth. Optimum fridge temperature settings are plus 2 – 4 C and the freezer around minus 18 C.
A useful tip is to keep eggs on an interior shelf and not in the fridge door. This avoids exposure to warmer temperatures each time you open the door. Eggs should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Poultry, raw meats, and fish should be eaten or cooked within two days of purchase. It is recommended to store cooked meats for no more than three months and bag the meat to avoid contact with other items.
Preparing a healthy meal means washing the food, especially fruit and veggies. Clean your hands regularly during the preparation and particularly after contact with uncooked meats or fish produce. Most hygienists recommend not wiping your hands on a dishtowel because they make superb bacterial breeding grounds.
Removing and discarding the outer leaves on popular vegetables like lettuce or cabbage reduces the likelihood of spreading bacteria around the food preparation surface.
Another safe hygiene pointer is to use designated cutting boards and utensils for certain food stuffs such as meats and non-meats. Keep one for chopping fish, meats, and poultry, and another for cutting vegetables and fruits. Sharing chopping boards increases the risk of circulating harmful bacteria such as salmonella and e. Coli. Use separate dishes and cutlery for uncooked and cooked foods.
It is better to thaw meats in the microwave or fridge and not at room temperature and then cook the food soon afterwards. When you cook the food, make sure that it is fully cooked and not left pink in the middle. A meat thermometer is ideal for testing the internal temperature of the meat. Pork should usually be cooked to a minimum of 59 C. Under-cooked beef, chicken, and pork often causes salmonella or parasite infections.
3. Cleaning Up Thoroughly
Clean the work surfaces, counters, and cooking utensils as you go. It might seem like ‘overkill’ but thoroughly cleaning kitchen tops, cutting boards, used pots and pans, dishes throughout the whole culinary event ranks high on food hygiene standards.
Use hot water and antibacterial soaps or commercial cleaning products after the meal to sanitize completely all sponges, prep boards, the sink, the drain, and the garbage bin to reduce unwanted stomach bugs, and bacterial infections.