Be food safe this Christmas
Lessen food risks to you and your family’s health
Christmas is just days away and although it might not be the Christmas many of us had planned it’s as important as ever to lessen food risks to you and your family’s health, especially the more vulnerable.
Each year millions of people get sick from food illnesses, some of which can cause serious health problems, such as salmonella.
Making sure your food is bacteria-free is key to avoid food-illnesses so, before you start carving the turkey and heating up left overs, take a look at some easy basic practices for ensuring your food preparation is safe.
Clean and Disinfect
- Regularly disinfecting the surfaces of your home is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of harmful germs and bacteria. You can do this by using an ‘Antibacterial Surface Cleanser’, like the ones that say “kills 99.9% of bacteria”. These are effective, non-bleach and no-taint sprays that will help you do the job. Remember to read the label to check the product is safe to use where food is prepared.
- Wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds! Do this before and after touching food.
- Wash your cutting boards, dishes, forks, spoons, knives, and kitchen work tops with hot soapy water. Do this after working with each food item.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, especially surfaces that come into contact with food and that are touched regularly.
- Thoroughly rinse with cold water fresh fruits, vegetables, and salad items. Remember that vegetables grown in soil will also need to be peeled before use.
- Never use kitchen towels/washcloths more than once a day. At the end of the day, put them aside and wash with the next load of laundry. If your kitchen towels or dishcloths touch raw meat, it can cause bacterial contamination. Don’t use them again for anything else until you have washed and dried them.
- Use paper towels to soak up liquids, grease or remove food waste.
The most common example of cross-contamination is the transfer of bacteria between raw and cooked food which is thought to be the cause of most foodborne illness. For example, when you are preparing raw chicken, bacteria can spread to your chopping board, knife and hands and could cause food poisoning.
Even though cross-contamination can be a common issue, there are simple ways to avoid it, these include:
- Keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods. It is also advised that you do this in your shopping trolleys, bags for life, and fridge.
- Covering and storing raw meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Cooked, washed, and prepped food must always be stored above raw food items.
- Using a separate chopping board for raw foods – make sure it is cleaned after every use.
Remember: Heat kills bacteria!
- Always following cooking instructions, as well as cooking food for the correct length of time and at the right temperature are great ways to prevent food poisoning.
- Use a thermometer to check! Food should be 75°C or above in the thickest part. For example, when cooking a whole chicken, pierce the thickest part of the leg (between the drumstick and the thigh) with a clean knife or skewer until the juices run out. The juices should not have any pink or red in them.
- When reheating, take extra care your food is heated all the way through. Do not reheat food more than once.
Store your food correctly
- When you buy food, check the product label and/or packaging to find out what’s the best way to store each product. Labels contain a lot of key information, including if foods need to be chilled, frozen, or kept at ambient (room temperature).
- Once you’re ready to use a food you had previously frozen make sure you thaw it correctly: read any defrosting instruction given on the food packaging and follow them!
- For food that has just been cooked you should employ the ‘90 Minute Rule’. This means that you should put newly cooked foods in the fridge or freezer within 90 minutes after cooking.
Keep these simple practises in mind this Christmas to help protect you & your family from unwanted illness – after all we’ve all had a tough enough year as it is!
Wishing you a very happy & safe Christmas!