As many of the bugs that cause food poisoning can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, it can be hard to tell if food has become unsafe to eat. Following some simple practices at home can ensure that your food is prepared safely and protect yourself against food poisoning.
Wash your hands and nails with soap and water, and dry well, before you handle any food
Use a separate board and knife for preparing raw meats and vegetables
Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, which will take 24hours, or in the microwave as per instructions – never on the bench.
Wash all fruits and vegetables as dirt and dust can house bacteria
Make sure your food is cooked right through – raw food should be cooked thoroughly and heated to 75’C to destroy the bacteria, especially meat and chicken
High-risk foods include meat and poultry, seafood, pasta and rice
Reheat prepared foods to 60’C – only reheat once after cooking
Keep hot foods hot (60’C + and cold foods cold (5’C or less)
Important points for the microwave
Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked straight away. You can freeze it after it has been cooked.
When cooking and reheating, make sure you rotate and stir food, as microwaves heat food unevenly and can leave cold spots.
Cut food into even pieces as these will all take about the same time to cook.
Cover the container of food with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid, as this will help to trap the steam and help the food to cook.
Always wash your board after preparing meats and before other foods
Use hot water and detergent to clean bench tops, cutting boards, knives and cooking equipment
Change or disinfect sponges or dishcloths regularly and spread out to dry after use
Never use the same dishcloths for cleaning floors and food preparation surfaces. Have a separate cloth or paper towel, to clean up spills on floor.
Store cooked meats and raw foods on lower shelf of refrigerator to avoid raw juices dripping on other foods
Cover and put leftover food in the fridge as soon as there is no steam rising, do not leave to cool on the bench
Check “use by” and “best before” dates
Put the date on foods before you put them in the freezer
Cool hot food quickly. Once the steam has stopped rising from the dish, place immediately into the fridge or freezer, in a shallow container, covered.
Always store food in the fridge with a cover or lid.
Avoid re-freezing defrosted food
Put a thermometer in your fridge and freezer and check the temperatures – fridge <5’C and freezer <-18’C.
Try not to overcrowd your fridge as this may cause the temperature to rise.