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Food hygiene

It's important that good food hygiene practices are always followed to avoid food poisoning. There are a number of things which you should take into consideration when preparing, storing, or cooking food.

Preparing food

Bacteria spreading from one food to another is a major cause of food poisoning. This can happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, or when chopping boards, utensils and people's hands have touched raw food.

To prevent bacteria from spreading, remember to do the following:

  • always wash your hands before preparing food and after touching raw food, especially raw meat
  • prepare raw and ready-to-eat food separately
  • if you have used a knife or chopping board with raw meat, do not use them with ready-to-eat food (such as fruit, salad and cooked food) unless you have cleaned them thoroughly first
  • keep cloths, tea towels and hand towels clean and change them frequently

Cooking food

Cooking food properly kills harmful bacteria. It's important to do the following:

  • thaw meat and poultry fully before cooking
  • always check that food is piping hot all the way through before you eat it, even if you have followed a recipe or cooking instructions on packaging
  • don't reheat food more than once and always check that it is piping hot all the way through before you eat it

Chilling food

Some foods need to be kept chilled to keep them safe, for example food with a 'use by' date, food that you have cooked and will not serve immediately, or other ready-to-eat food such as prepared salads.

Always remember to:

  • put food that needs to be chilled in the fridge straight away
  • cool cooked food as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge
  • store raw meat and poultry in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge to stop it touching or dripping onto ready-to-eat food
  • don't overload the fridge - this can stop cold air from circulating, which could allow foods to get too warm

Take extra care

If you are preparing food for elderly people, babies, toddlers, pregnant women or someone who is ill, avoid giving them eggs with runny yolks, or foods that contain eggs that won't be cooked: for example, homemade mayonnaise and some types of ice cream, icing or mousse.

This is because eggs can contain harmful bacteria.

When preparing eggs for these people, cook them until the white and yolk are solid.

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