Summer is the ideal time to enjoy picnics and barbecues with the family - however, it's important to ensure the food you eat is appropriately prepared
New research from the Foods Standards Agency has found people could be unwittingly putting themselves and their family at risk through their lack of knowledge of food hygiene.
The Food Standards Agency is therefore offering tips to ensure you enjoy your food, the healthy way.
1 Chilling & Defrosting
Chilling food properly helps to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. You should do the following:
- Do not defrost foods at room temperature - instead, defrost them fully in the fridge, or if this isn't possible, using a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking the food.
- Cool cooked foods at room temperature and ensure you've placed then in the fridge within one to two hours.
- Ensure you store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods, and keep them covered.
- Foods with a 'use by' date, pre-cooked dishes, salads and desserts will all need to be kept chilled and out of the sun until they're ready to be served.
- Ensure your fridge is cold enough - it should be below 5oC.
Cooking food at the right temperature and for the right length of time ensures any harmful bacteria is killed:
i) You should ensure the meat is steaming hot throughout.
ii) There is no visible pink meat.
iii) Meat juices run clear.
- Burgers prepared at home should be cooked all the way through until they are steaming hot. They should not be served rare or pink as harmful bacteria can be present in the middle of the burger, which can cause food poisoning.
- Once served, dishes should not be sitting outside for more than two hours, or one hour if it's very warm.
Effective cleaning will remove bacteria from hands, equipment and surfaces, helping to prevent bacteria spreading onto food. The following will help to keep germs at bay:
Hands: Wash your hands before cooking and eating when it's possible. If you're at a picnic and it's not possible, make sure you have wet wipes to clean your hands, and a sanitiser to sterilise them.
Utensils and serving dishes: take care to keep your utensils and platters clean when preparing food and ensure you don't mix those used to prepare raw and ready-to-eat dishes.
Cook it, don't wash it: don't wash raw chicken or any other meat. This will only splash germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops. Cooking will kill any bacteria that is present.
4 Avoiding cross-contamination
This can happen when raw food touches ready-to-eat food, utensils or surfaces. Prevent it by following these tips:
- Store raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods.
- Use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food.
- Wash your hands after touching raw meat and before handling ready-to-eat food.
- Do not prepare food for others if you're unwell.