If you've ever had food poisoning you'll know how unpleasant it can be, even for a fit and healthy person. Food poisoning can sometimes cause serious illness, and even death.
Most people assume that food poisoning comes from restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets but, according to the Food Standards Agency, youre just as likely to get ill from food prepared at home.
Here are a few tips that can reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning at home:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and dry them, before handling food and after handling raw meat, going to the bathroom or blowing your nose.
- Wash worktops with hot soapy water before preparing food and afterwards, particularly after they've been touched by raw meat, poultry or raw eggs.
- Wash dishcloths and tea towels regularly and let them dry before using them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
- Have separate chopping boards for raw meat and for ready-to-eat food. Raw meat contains harmful bacteria that can spread very easily to anything it touches, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.
- It is especially important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won't be cooked before eating, so any bacteria that gets on to these foods won't be killed.
- Always cover raw meat and store it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator where it can't touch other foods or drip on to them.
- Cook food thoroughly, and check that it's piping hot all the way through. Make sure that poultry, kebabs, etc are steaming hot with no pink meat inside. Having said this, don't overcook food too much either, as this can be detrimental too.
- Keep your refrigerator temperature between 0C and 5C. By keeping food cold you stop food poisoning bugs growing.
- If you have cooked food that you're not going to eat straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes) and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Use any leftovers from the fridge within two days.
- Don't eat food that's past its 'use by' date. Use by dates are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful bugs can develop in the food.
(Adapted from article on www.nhs.uk)