How can we prevent food poisoning?
Preventing food poisoning isn’t too tricky. It all comes down to the Food Standards Agency’s four Cs: Cooking, Cleaning, Chilling, and Cross-Contamination (or rather, preventing it).
Cooking to prevent food poisoning
Cooking food helps kill off harmful bacteria. This is especially important when it comes to meat and seafood.
- Beef and lamb don’t need to be cooked all the way through as long as they’re prepared hygienically
- Pork and chicken need to be completely cooked – piping hot all the way through with no pink meat visible when it is sliced into. Click here for some useful tips on meat temperature guidelines and resting times
- For seafood, it will depend on the type and freshness of the fish. Check the packet guidelines, or discuss it with your fishmonger if you’re buying over a counter.
Cleaning to prevent food poisoning
Observing proper hygiene, for yourself and your kitchen surfaces and equipment, can help tackle common causes of food poisoning. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you cook, and if you’re ill then stay away from the kitchen – let someone else treat you to a meal instead.
Chilling to prevent food poisoning
Sadly, this doesn’t mean relaxing with a glass of wine and Netflix – although you’re completely within your rights to do that as well. Keeping food at the right temperature can help prevent the growth and spread of bacteria. So:
- When you bring your shopping home, check the food labels to find out how to store it
- Once you open a packet or jar, check the labels again when putting it away – some things will need a new home
- Finally, once you’ve cooked a meal, put anything you’re planning to eat on another occasion in the fridge, ideally within an hour or two.
Even if you are doing all of the above, you can still be at risk from cross-contamination. We have a whole article dedicated to the subject here, but the key points to remember are:
- Keep raw meat and seafood well away from other foods in the fridge. Place in sealed containers on the lowest shelf
- When you’re prepping your ingredients, use separate utensils, chopping boards, and plates for raw meat/seafood and vegetables
- Wash all your cooking equipment and plates very thoroughly in hot water with a reliable detergent, like Persil dishwashing liquid
- Your cleaning cloths and sponges also need to be clean so wash them regularly in water that is as hot as possible. This can be done in either the sink or the machine
- Use a multi-purpose disinfecting kitchen spray like Cif or Domestos on your worktops both before and after preparing food.
What to do if you have food poisoning
According to the NHS, if you’re struck down with food poisoning, it’s best to rest at home and drink plenty of water. Frequent yet small, light, and dry meals are your friend.
However, if your symptoms are severe, or they last longer than a few days, it’s best to get in touch with your GP. Likewise, if you’re pregnant, over 60, or have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s better to be safe than sorry and book a visit to the doctor’s surgery.
For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.