[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #00adef;”] O[/dropcap]n the weekend I listened to my friend Darya’s brilliant podcast interview of a lawyer specializing in food safety.
Which took me back to my uni days studying food microbiology (hello Campylobacter!). And got me thinking about food safety and how to avoid food poisoning.
So today I thought I’d share the essential things you need to know to keep your family safe.
5 Rules to Avoid Food Poisoning
1. Keep cooked and raw food separate.
One of the biggest sources of food poisoning is cross contamination which is when cooked food get reinfected with microbes or toxins from the raw food. This is usually via utensils, plates or chopping boards.
The easy way to avoid this is to wash (or place in the sink or dishwasher) any equipment that comes in contact with raw food as soon as you’ve finished using it. And wipe up any spills on the bench asap.
When I say ‘raw food’, it’s really meat, fish and poultry that you need to be super vigalent with. Anything that you’re going to be eating raw anyway isn’t so problematic. Although if you have a bunch of dirty carrots or potatoes etc be careful.
2. Refrigerate quickly
As soon as you know you’ll be storing food in the fridge, get it in there ASAP. The rule of thumb is refrigerate within 2 hours but the sooner it is chilled, the lower the risk.
3. Don’t use sponges or dish cloths
I hate kitchen sponges because a damp sponge is heaven for bacteria. I use paper towel instead. If you wet it like a sponge it works almost as well. And you can compost it after use.
But if you want to avoid the waste aspect, make sure your sponges dry out thoroughly between uses. And if they go smelly, dispose asap!
4. Use a thermometer
The easiest and least intrusive way to know if food is cooked safely is to check the temperature. Especially critical for poultry and minced (ground) meat.
These days they aren’t expensive AND come in handy if you want to make your own yoghurt. If you’re a meat eater, get one asap.
5. Avoid industrially produced food
One thing I found super interesting from the podcast was that more and more food poisoning outbreaks aren’t coming from factory farmed chicken, eggs or ground (minced) meat. The rising ‘stars’ in the food poisoning world are raw veggies. Especially washed salads.
Another reason to shop locally (although just because something is local doesn’t mean it’s safe!)
More on food safety…
- An insiders guide to use-by dates
- The Dos and Don’ts of Keeping Leftovers Safe
- How Do You Know When Food is Still ‘Safe to Eat’?
- Defrosting 101: the quickest and safest methods without a microwave
- 7 golden rules of freezing food
What do you think?
Did you find this helpful? Like to see more ‘food science’ posts on Stonesoup? Do let me know in the comments below.
And have (safe!) fun in the kitchen!
I would like more food science posts.
Thanks for letting me know Sue!
This sort of information is really useful. Doesn’t matter how well we cook if we don’t get everything else right.
Glad you found it useful Amanda!
This is really interesting! I’m especially curious about the safety of prepared raw veg and salad. e. g. once a few leaves turn is it ok to remove them and eat the rest?
You’re right to be curious about raw veg and salad Amanda. Since they’re not cooked they are a bigger risk. And this the biggest growth area for food poisoning outbreaks!
So I’d recommend washing, even if you are buying pre-washed.
In terms of safety once a few leaves ‘turn’. That’s more of a quality thing than food safety. So it’s totally safe to remove the wilted leaves and eat the rest.
Thanks for the questions!
Thanks for your wonderful stone soup. I love your work.
I am trying to cut down on using paper items, so I knit dishcloths, in pure cotton. I have about four patterns and they knit up about 20 cm square. Everyday or so as I finish in the kitchen I throw them into a small pan of hot water and boil them for about 10 – 15 minutes. I have different colours ones for wiping the side and ones for washing up. They seem to last for ever but one day will end up in the compost.
Thanks for sharing. If you’re using dish cloths as long as they get to dry out between uses they’re OK. Hanging in the sun is great as well as the UV light kills bacteria as well.
Very impressed with your knitting skills!
I’m also for more food science posts!
About the sponges: We wash them in the dishwasher or washing machine. Whichever will run with a high temperature (> 60°C) first. The dishwasher is gentler and makes the sponges last even longer, but they come out soaking wet, so you need to have to way to dry them quickly afterward. The treatment in the washing machine is a bit more rough, and also if the sponge has a hard surface for scraping on one side, it might damage your other clothes, but the sponges come out almost dry after the spinning.
I would never have thought of the dishwasher – love it!
I put damp cloths in the microwave on high for 3mins to kill the bugs…then hang it over the kitchen tap to dry….saves using masses of paper
I don’t have a microwave Lucy – but that’s a great method as well :)
Very interesting post. We are sponge users, because that’s what my husband likes. It’s good to know about letting the sponge dry out between uses. I was not aware of that before. Thanks for good information.
You’re welcome Susan!
Thank you for sharing. If you’re using dry dish cloths. Hanging in the sun is great as well as the UV light kills bacteria as well.
Yes Kathy VU light is brilliant!