Salmonella, E.coli, listeria… ew. Anyone who’s ever had food poisoning will know it’s really not nice, so we caught up with Lorna Roswell from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to talk food hygiene.
Q. I juggle nappy changing, washing and cooking in my hectic kitchen. How do I make sure that my kitchen remains hygienic?
A. The kitchen may be the heart of the home, and is often used for more than simply cooking, but this increases the risk of cross contamination, where harmful germs are spread between food, surfaces and equipment.
Make sure your kitchen is clean before cooking. Remove unnecessary clutter and wash worktops before and after. When preparing food, always use a chopping board. Wash the board and other utensils in hot, soapy water when you’ve finished using them and in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods. Better still, use a separate chopping board for each.
Q. I try not to, but if I have to store feeds in the fridge, how can I do this more safely?
A. To reduce the risk of infection we advise you make up each feed as your baby needs it, using boiled water at a temperature of 70ºC or above to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present and to use it within 2 hours.
If you have no choice but to store made up bottles, make sure your fridge is set below 5°C to prevent harmful germs from growing and multiplying and store bottles in the coolest part of your fridge, away from the door, for no more than 24 hours. Find out more here.
Q. How do you tell the difference between ‘use-by’ dates and ‘best before’ dates?
A. ‘Use by’ dates are found on perishable products, like dairy, meat and fish, and are based on scientific testing to determine how long these foods will stay safe. After that date, food could be unsafe to eat even if it looks and smells fine.
‘Best before’ dates are used on foods that have a longer shelf life and tell us how long the food will be at its best. After that date it is normally safe to eat, but its flavour and texture might have deteriorated.
Q. How can I ensure that my children are learning best practice in the kitchen from an early age?
Hands are one of the main ways in which germs are spread, and since children are constantly using theirs to explore and play, this is a great place to start. Help them learn to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before eating, after playing outside, using the toilet or handling pets. You can set a good example by showing how you wash your hands after doing these, after changing nappies, and before preparing food.
To see how safe your kitchen habits are and for more tips, take the FSA’s online Kitchen Check. You can get little ones involved too by downloading our fun Kitchen Check activities.
Kitchen Check can be found at: www.food.gov.uk/kitchen-check