Food Safety At Home
Most of us can remember a few pearls of household wisdom passed on by our grandmothers – but one that should most definitely be consigned to the past is the idea that you need to wash your meat and poultry before you cook it.
Chops, chicken breasts, even a rack of lamb - the standards of hygiene in today’s preparation and packing of meat means that any joint, cut or bird will be safe to put straight in the oven from its packaging.
In fact, by washing your meat, you could actually be spreading bacteria – any water that splashes off the meat onto you or your kitchen surfaces could carry a number of potential bugs. Campylobacter, found in fresh poultry and red meat, is the most common identified cause of food poisoning and spreads easily. Its effects are pretty nasty, so help prevent it spreading in your home, store food correctly in the fridge, cooking it properly – and don’t wash your meat!
There are other simple hygiene tips you can follow to keep you and your family safe:
Stick to these simple rules and cooking should be fun, not fearsome. Although the washing of meat may be consigned to the past, there’s one phrase that we should still practise today – ‘waste not, want not’.
These days, our emphasis on not wasting food has as much to do with protecting the environment as with financial savings, but these are still a useful side effect. Every year in the UK, about a third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away. The simplest way to reduce that amount is to avoid buying or cooking more food than you need – but if you have over-catered, how about just being a bit more creative with the leftovers? If you’re stuck for ideas, visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com where you’ll find lots of tips from top chefs and fellow consumers.
As well as over-catering, a lot of our food ends up being thrown away because of confusion over the date labelling. If something’s gone past its ‘use by’ date, then throw it away – you could risk your health by eating it. But if it’s a ‘best before’ date, then it’s fine to eat after that date has passed. These dates are more about quality than safety, so all it means is that the food may have lost a little flavour or texture.
You can help keep everything safe and tasting its best by making sure you get your food to the fridge quickly – don’t leave it to fester in the back of the car! Once in the fridge, make sure it’s running properly at the right temperature (less than 5 C). Why not pick up a cheap thermometer or temperature strip to make sure?
Further hygiene tips on storing and preparing food safely at home can be found at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/homehygiene/Pages/Homehygienehub.aspx