At times people think that food safety legislation goes too far and that we have too much red tape.
While most of us don’t have any aspirations to producing food for the masses there is a few simple things that you can do to ensure that your food is safe (and at the same time ensure its at its best for taste and mouth feel).
Firstly, make sure you wash your hands before you prepare food. It seems fairly obvious, but makes a huge difference in ensuring that the food you prepare has less chance of picking up something nasty off your hands. Also remember to wash your hands after going to the toilet. Again, it helps to keep the nasties out of your food.
Keep the food your cooking away from the dirty dishes or rubbish bin. I know it sounds basic, but it can be an easy way of letting vermin or their waste get into your food and make it unsafe. If you have a compost bin, ensure its far away from your preparation area as there will be less chance of vermin creeping across to the food you’re preparing.
The next few tips are all about keeping your food safe, but also keeping it at its best.
Keep your cold foods cold, in other words, if the food or part of the meal you are preparing should be kept in the fridge, keep it there and only have it out of the fridge when you need to. This also helps the food hold its shape, colour and flavour better too.
Keep the foods that are meant to be hot, hot. If you are preparing some foods that need to be warm, make sure you hold them warm. The cooler these foods get the more risk of bacterial growth they have.
With both cold foods and hot foods the better you keep foods out of the danger zone (5-60 degrees Celsius) the safer the food will be. Once a food has been between this temperature range for more than 4 hours it should be thrown out and not consumed. If it has been within that temperature range for two to four hours it needs to be used immediately and if it has been between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius for less that 2 hours you can refrigerate it or use it immediately.
When you’re doing your shopping, make sure you avoid dented or swollen cans, cracked eggs or any containers that are leaking. Its also best to grab your frozen or hot foods at the end of your shop to ensure they remain as close as possible to their ideal temperature for as long as possible.
If you are defrosting foods, ensure you do so in the fridge and allow plenty of time to do this so that it defrosts evenly and safely without the food getting too warm by leaving the food on the bench.
If your fridge is quite full, it may be time to think about how you are stacking your fridge as this can impact your fridge’s ability to hold the temperature below 5 degrees Celsius. Some tips for this would be to ensure that you keep your foods that are going to spoil quickly cool, while other items like beer or other drinks (that don’t need to be stored in the fridge) out. This will ensure that the items that need to be cold are kept at an appropriate temperature.
Another point on stocking your fridge, its important to ensure that raw meats are kept below cooked meats in the fridge so that you don’t have blood and juices from the raw meats falling onto the cooked meat or other meals. Milks and things that are likely to spoil are better kept in the main part of the fridge rather than the door, this way ensuring they are subject to fewer fluctuations in temperature than they would be in the door of the fridge.
For your left overs, refrigerate or freeze them quickly after the meal, this will minimize the amount of time them remain within the food danger zone of 5-60 degrees Celsius.
So, even though we might not all want to cook for the multitudes, there are some simple things we can do at home to ensure that was are minimizing our risk of exposing the people we are cooking for to the risk of potential food borne illness.