Handling and Cooking Food Safely
It’s important to take care when preparing meals at home, as germ-ridden kitchens and incorrect handling of food can easily result in food poisoning and other illnesses. Here are our tips for dealing with food in a safe, hygienic way.
Wash Your Hands
Our hands are one of the main ways germs are spread so it’s important to keep them clean, especially in the kitchen. Wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water before touching any food, knives, chopping boards, or anything else that will come into contact with what you eat. Make sure you wash them again after going to the toilet, touching the bin, touching pets, or coming into contact with anything else that’s likely to carry germs. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat or poultry, which contain harmful bacteria that should not be spread to any other foods.
Clean Surfaces and Kitchenware Frequently
Take the time to keep worktops and other surfaces clean, as well as chopping boards, dishes and utensils. Any surfaces that you prepare food items on should be cleaned before you use them for the next food. Remember, it’s best to use plastic or other non-porous chopping boards which are easier to keep completely clean. Also, be aware of just how many germs your tea towel can harbour. These need to be washed frequently. If you use a tea towel after handling raw meat it should be washed before being used again.
The safest way to prepare various foods is separately, especially when handling raw meat or poultry, seafood, or raw eggs. Keep these foods and their juices away from other ready-to-eat foods. When storing any of them in your fridge, keep them covered and on lower shelves. Make sure you never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or sea food.
Cook Foods to Proper Temperatures
In order to ensure that food is cooked thoroughly, you should cook it until it’s piping hot in the middle – especially if it’s meat. Don’t just assume that it’s hot enough – check the internal temperature with a thermometer, measuring heat in the middle or thickest part of the food. The temperature you’re looking for will vary from food to food. Steaks should be at least 60˚C while poultry should be at least 80˚C. Bacteria can spread throughout mincemeat during processing so this should always be cooked to at least 70˚C. If you don’t have a thermometer available, do not eat mincemeat that is still pink inside. Fish should be cooked until it’s opaque and flakes easily with a fork, while eggs should be cooked until the yolk and white are both firm.
The important thing is to be aware of just how many germs there are in the kitchen and how easily you can end up consuming them. Keep your hands and kitchenware clean, avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, and be wary of under-cooking. If you keep these key tips in mind, you can enjoy your home-cooked meals without the risk of illness.