If you’ve ever had a bout of food poisoning, you know how miserable this incredibly common illness can be. Food poisoning comes in different forms and affects sufferers to varying degrees.
So, you may be wondering how can we prevent food poisoning and avoid putting ourselves at risk. Here, we outline some essential cleaning and storage tips that will help you and your family prevent food poisoning from originating in your home.
What is food poisoning?
Ever eaten an oyster that you thought was fresh, only to feel suddenly and extremely ill? Visited an all-you-can-eat buffet with chicken that tasted just a little funny, and suddenly found yourself stuck in the bathroom?
Food poisoning is what we call the sickness we suffer after eating food that’s been contaminated, usually by bacteria. This can happen when the food has come into contact with other contaminated food or surfaces or when foods like meat or fish are cooked or stored incorrectly. It can even occur when something perishable is eaten after it’s started to go bad.
A recent World Health Organization report indicates that as many as 600 million people worldwide become ill with food poisoning every year – that’s one person in every ten.
What causes food poisoning: Common mistakes
We often associate food poisoning with visits to eateries that fail to meet certain hygiene standards but you could just as easily give yourself food poisoning at home. Cooking food outdoors during the summer months, for example, is an easy way to let our home hygiene slip and expose ourselves, and our guests, to the risk of food poisoning.
Here are a few common mistakes to look out for when trying to prevent food poisoning:
- Not refrigerating foods that need to be chilled quickly enough after purchase, or leaving them outside to get warm. This can cause bacteria to grow and breed
- Defrosting things at room temperature, instead of in the fridge
- Leaving plates of food outdoors at a barbeque. This is even risky for things like dips and sandwiches
- Not cleaning surfaces that have come into contact with uncooked food thoroughly enough. You should always use a strong antibacterial product, such as Handy Andy
Remember, food poisoning can be particularly serious in young children (under 5 years), elderly people, pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems. If you suspect food poisoning cases among someone belonging to one of these groups, be sure to seek immediate medical advice.
How to prevent food poisoning
Preventing food poisoning, at least in your own kitchen, is fairly simple. If you are careful to always employ good hygiene practices, such as those listed below, then you can help protect yourself and your family.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often. This means not just before you start cooking, but both before and after touching raw foods, as well after you go to the toilet, after you sneeze, and after you touch the rubbish bin or pet your dog.
- Wash utensils and work surfaces often with cleaning products like Handy Andy cream or Domestos Bleach. Wash dishcloths and tea towels regularly, allowing them to dry fully before using them again.
- Use different coloured chopping boards for preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods. This will help prevent cross contamination.
- Keep raw meat away from other foods. Store it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to stop it from contaminating other food.
- Ensure the temperature in your fridge is below 5° This helps to halt the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
- Always obey “use by” dates on food labelling. If in doubt, throw it out!
- Make sure you select products that are proven to be effective when cleaning. Products such as Handy Andy cream or Domestos can be good options for cleaning surfaces in the home, and especially in the kitchen. Always use them as directed on the packaging and remember to keep them away from children.
If you follow these simple tips, you’ll keep the risk of food poisoning in your home low. Cleaning thoroughly before and after cooking has other benefits, too, like helping to keep roaches and flies away from your kitchen – be sure to check out more kitchen hygiene articles from Cleanipedia to find out more!