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Food safety

When it comes to food safety, there's a few top tips you can follow in order to keep yourself and your family safe and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

For more information and advice, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

  • Be aware of use by dates and follow the storage instructions on all food

  • Keep your fridge temperature below 5°C

  • Cool leftovers down as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes), store them in the fridge and eat within two days

  • Never put open cans in the fridge, as the metal may transfer to the can's contents.  Always place the contents into a storage container or covered bowl instead

  • Store raw meat and poultry in clean, sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so they can't touch or drip onto other food

  • Keep cooked meat separate from raw meat

  • It's safe to freeze meat and fish, as long as you freeze it before the use by date

  • Defrost meat and fish thoroughly before cooking.  As it thaws, a lot of liquid will come out, so stand it in a bowl to stop bacteria in the juice spreading to other things

  • If you intend to cook meat and fish straightaway, you can defrost it in a microwave, otherwise thaw it in the fridge, so it doesn't get too warm

  • Don't wash poultry!  This can spread bacteria onto your sink and surfaces, increasing the risk of contaminating other food.  If you cook it properly, there'll be no harmful bacteria

  • Never re-freeze raw meat, poultry or fish once it's been defrosted.  It is possible to re-freeze cooked meat once, as long as it's been cooled before going into the freezer (if in doubt, don't re-freeze!)

  • Make sure you wash all fruit and vegetables before eating, as this will help remove any bacteria, such E.coli, from the surface and prevent food poisoning

  • Cook food until it's piping hot all the way through
  • Always wash your hands before you start cooking and again after you've handled raw food

  • Wash all work surfaces and chopping boards before and after cooking, especially when you've handled raw meat, as they can be a source of cross-contamination

  • The average kitchen chopping board has around 200% more faecal bacteria on it than the average toilet seat!

  • Damp sponges and cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed and studies have shown the kitchen sponge to have the highest number of germs in the home.  Make sure you regularly wash and replace kitchen cloths, sponges and tea towels
With more of us re-using our carrier bags, whether for environmental reasons or to avoid paying for new ones, the following tips will help prevent bacteria spreading to ready to eat food:
  • Keep raw meat and fish separate from ready to eat food in different bags

  • If you're using re-useable bags, keep one or two just for raw meat and fish and never use the same bags for ready to eat food

  • Re-useable bags and single use carrier bags should be disposed of immediately, if there are spillages of raw meat juices

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