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How to Maintain Good Food Hygiene in the Home Kitchen

During the hot summer months after a hard day at work, the last thing you want to do is spend time in the kitchen cooking a full meal. Eating al fresco out on the patio or on the balcony is much more appealing, especially if you treat yourself to an ice cold beer or glass of wine as well. Entertaining friends with a barbeque is a great way to spend time relaxing and catching up with the latest news. However, unless you follow a few simple food hygiene rules, you could unwittingly be offering your guests more than just a helping of your home-made beef burger and salad.

When cooking for your friends as well as your family, it is really important to make sure you maintain high standards of food hygiene, in particular when it comes to storing, handling or preparing food. When the barbeque sets are taken out of storage and made ready for use, Environmental Health Officers get ready to start handling complaints about store bought meat and fish products.

In fact, the raw product that is bought from the supermarket or independent stores is more than likely to be absolutely fine. It is what happens to it when it leaves the retailers premises, which can cause problems. However, if you remember the 4 C’s every time you store, prepare or cook food, then any potential health hazards are greatly reduced.

The 4 C’s consumer advice are cleaning, cooking, chilling and cross-contamination (making sure you avoid it). By keeping surfaces clean and free from germs, ensuring your kitchen equipment and utensils are thoroughly cleaned, and washing your hands properly you can prevent the spread of the bacteria that causes food poisoning.

Make sure that your food is thoroughly cooked, in particular pork, poultry, sausages, burgers and kebabs. You can invest in household cooking thermometers, or use a skewer or point of a sharp knife to make sure the juices of meat run clear before serving. There are some meats such as steaks and joints of lamb or that can be cooked rare in the middle as long as the outside is fully cooked. Don’t be tempted to reheat your food more than once as well. The aim of ensuring the meat is cooked through, is so that you destroy the harmful bacteria such as salmonella and listeria.

By chilling your food properly you also stop these bacteria from multiplying, and your fridge should be set at 0-5°C (32-41°F) if the food has to be refrigerated. Any leftovers should go straight into the fridge as well. Finally make sure when handling your raw burger meat that you don’t cross contaminate any cooked foods. Keep your raw meat and fish on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator so they cannot drip onto cooked food. Make sure you wash your hands after handling raw food and use one chopping board for cutting up your steaks and kebabs, and another one for raw vegetables and salads.

By keeping the 4 C’s in mind, then you should be able to enjoy your summer outdoor dining and your home cooked family meals without too many trips to the doctors!

Mathew Lara Smith