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You are more likely to contract food poisoning in your own home than from a restaurant, that's slightly surprising, but it's true because there are so many ways that bacteria can contaminate food that we are about to eat. It's vital to store food properly. Here are some pointers and some reasons why!
- Raw meat should be stored separately to food that's ready to eat (cheese, salad, fruit). You don't need a separate fridge, but you do need to keep them apart. Keep raw met at the bottom of the fridge.
- Make sure all foods are covered.
- If you are defrosting raw food, make sure none of the water or defrosted liquid gets onto any of the other foods. Why? Because there are bacteria on raw foods that could contaminate foods you are about to eat.
- Always use a clean copping board and knife when cutting raw food and cooked food. Why? Bacteria can even spread from the knife or chopping board onto other foods.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat them. Why? Because they may have harmful bacteria on them and if you don't wash them you'll eat them too!
What's the difference between 'sell by', 'use by' and 'best before' dates?
Sell by - this is the date by which the shop need to sell the goods. There may well be a few days after this date that the food will be fine to eat.
Use by - this is the date by which the food must have been consumed - or throw it away! If you were a restaurant and you served food after the "use by" date it would be against the law.
Best before - this is all about quality. The food would be fine to eat after the sell by date, but it will be past its best.
Other things to remember:
- Keep pets away from food preparation areas.
- Keep equipment in good condition and replace splitting wooden spoons, cracked chopping boards etc.
- Steralise surfaces and equipment periodically.
- Keep you kitchen clean and sweep the floor often to prevent pests.
- Keep raw food covered in the fridge and when getting ready to cook.
Food hygiene is especially important if you have children in your home, both to practice and to teach them about so that they grow up understanding how to prepare food safely.