If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ll know how unpleasant it can be, even for a fit and healthy person. Sometimes food poisoning can cause serious illness and death. Most people assume that food poisoning comes from restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets but, according to the FSA, you’re just as likely to get ill from food prepared at home. “People don't like to admit that the germs might have come from their own home,” says Dr Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the FSA. But it's a common myth to think that food poisoning only comes from a dodgy takeaway. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning at home:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and dry them before handling food and after handling raw foods (meat, fish, eggs and vegetables) touching the bin, going to the toilet, blowing your nose or touching animals (including pets).
2. Wash worktops before and after preparing food, particularly after they've been touched by raw meat, including poultry, raw eggs, fish and vegetables. You don’t need to use anti-bacterial sprays. Hot soapy water is fine.
3. Wash dishcloths and tea towels regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
4. Use separate chopping boards for raw food and for ready-to-eat food. Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that can spread very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.
5. It's especially important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won't be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that gets on to the foods won't be killed.
6. Always cover raw meat and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it can't touch other foods or drip on to them.
7. Cook food thoroughly and check that it’s piping hot all the way through. Make sure poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot, with no pink meat inside.
8. Keep your fridge temperature below 5C. By keeping food cold, you stop food poisoning bugs growing.
9. If you have cooked food that you're not going to eat straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes) and store it in the fridge or freezer. Use any leftovers from the fridge within two days.
10. Don’t eat food that's past its "use by" date label. These are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful bugs can develop in the packaged food.