These tips are as useful in a home as they are in a commercial setting. A nasty case of food poisoning can lay you low for days, or it could get your catering premises fined or shut down. This is why you should never skimp or skip when it comes to food safety.
Your hands touch things without you even realising! This means they can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses, which can then be transferred to the food you’re preparing. It’s a good idea to use disposable gloves from suppliers like Regal Disposables, and you need to wash your hands regularly with soap and water to minimise this risk, especially when:
- you’re about to touch food;
- you’ve been to the bathroom;
- after touching pets or animals;
- after blowing your nose, and
- after handling raw meat, fish and especially poultry.
Handling raw meat
Raw meat is a major source of bacterial infections like E. coli and Salmonella, so you should aim to keep it away from other foodstuffs. You should also:
- wash down counters, chopping boards, knives and anything else that’s touched raw meat;
- wash your hands,
- avoid using a knife or any other utensil that’s touched raw meat until it’s been cleaned;
- cook meat thoroughly and don’t refreeze thawed meat unless you’ve cooked it;
- keep meat in the fridge; defrost frozen meat in the fridge, and
- store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so it can’t drip on food below (if you see drips anywhere, clean them up ASAP).
Handling poultry, eggs and fish
Fish, poultry and eggs are among the main sources of infections like E. coli and Salmonella, so you shouldn’t take any risks here:
- keep these foods in the fridge until you prepare them;
- wash your hands after handling them;
- never eat partially-cooked or raw eggs, rare poultry or rare fish;
- cook poultry until the juices run clear, and
- cook fish until it’s flaky and opaque in the middle.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Fruit and veg can also carry bacteria and moulds, so be careful here, too:
- avoid any produce that’s mouldy, slimy, shrivelled or smells “off”;
- only buy what you need for the next few days, although things like pumpkins, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits last for a while longer;
- don’t let fresh produce become bruised, as this can attract mould and decay;
- place your fruit and veg in the fridge promptly and discard anything that looks off or rotten;
- wash your hands before and after handling fresh foods and wash the produce itself with warm water, using a soft brush to remove dirt if necessary, and
- wash produce just before you use it, not when you get back from the shops, but don’t use washing up liquid as it can be absorbed and ingested.
Handling hot stuff
The kitchen can be a dangerous place, so take care, especially when handling hot liquids and pans:
- make sure pan handles point to the wall when they’re on the hob so you don’t catch them;
- use oven gloves or pot holders;
- don’t place hot pans on counters as they can burn;
- only use microwave-appropriate containers when you reheat in the microwave, and
- use a splatter-guard when frying and keep liquids away from hot oils and grease as if the hot grease falls in, it can splatter up and cause burns.