The most common cause of food borne illnesses is incorrect or insufficient hand washing. Before handling any food is imperative that you wash your hands thoroughly.
Other important things to consider when preparing food are:
- Do not store or prepare raw meats with cooked meats and dairy produce.
- Use different chopping boards for raw meat, cooked foods and fish.
- Cook food thoroughly and ensure it is heated throughout using a special food thermometer if necessary.
When cleaning your surfaces make sure that you do so thoroughly, anti-bacterial disposable wipes are good for this and are far more hygienic than using a regular dishcloth that is likely to be harbouring more germs than you could ever dream of.
Do not use damp tea towels and make sure that you wash them regularly and dry them thoroughly before use.
All fruit and vegetables must be washed thoroughly before eating them. This is especially important if they are to be eaten raw because there is no cooking process to kill any bacteria.
Before storing food, cool it as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of bacteria and cover it before refrigeration. Eat within two days.
Food dates can be a minefield and confusing to understand. Don’t be caught short! You look in the kitchen cupboard in December and discover that the can of soup that you fancy says best before October. What do you do? Are you the kind of person that is horrified and immediately tosses it into the bin for fear of botulism or are you quite nonchalant about it and warm it up before devouring it with a crusty roll?
It’s easy to get confused with dates on food and you may have seen several variations:
- Sell By
- Use By
- Best Before
Date marking is required by the EU to act as a guide and retailers must adhere to the law.
- Sell by dates are there as a guide for the retailers. It is not against the law for shops to sell goods after the sell by dates.
- Use by dates means that you should not eat the food after this date. Highly perishable foods usually display this label and if you eat food after the use by date then you could be putting yourself at risk of food poisoning. It is also illegal for shops to sell foods that are past the use by date. It is also an offence for shops to have food on display that are past their use by date.
- Best before dates indicate when food will lose its quality. It is not illegal to sell food after its best before date. You may find that foods such as crisps and canned foods are not at their premium quality and might lose some flavour or colour.
More and more outlets are selling short dated foods and there are some great savings to be had just by visiting the supermarket late at night.