Officers in our Food, Health and Safety Team, work with individuals and organisations. They promote improvements in public health and well-being. This is achieved by:
- Providing advice to businesses and the public.
- Working in partnership with others.
- Carrying out special projects.
- Involvement in public awareness campaigns, for example, food safety week.
Top tips for food safety
Listed below are some steps you can take to safely prepare and handle food:
When buying your food, remember these points:
- Check 'use by' and 'best before' dates marked on package labels.
- Take chilled food straight home after purchase, if you can't, use an insulated bag.
- Beware of poor shop hygiene, for example, overloaded chilled cabinets. The food may not be as cold as it should be.
- Avoid damaged packages.
- Ensure that raw meat or poultry is completely wrapped.
- Separate raw foods and ready-to-eat foods in your shopping bag.
- If possible, buy chilled or frozen foods last.
- Pack chilled and frozen food together, preferably in a cool bag.
- Aim to keep the coldest part of your fridge between 0°C and 5°C (32°F and 41°F).
- Keep a fridge thermometer in the coldest part and check the temperature regularly.
- Keep the most perishable foods, like cooked meats, in the coldest part of the fridge.
- Return perishable foods to the fridge or freezer as soon as possible after use.
- Wrap or cover all raw or uncooked foods. This is so they can't touch or drip on other foods and contaminate them.
- To keep the fridge cold, don't overload it or leave the door open longer than necessary.
- Don't put hot food in the fridge. Let it cool first.
- Don't keep food beyond its 'use by' date.
- Empty any part-used can into a bowl and cover it, otherwise the tin may contaminate the food.
- Follow storage instructions given on food packages.
A safe kitchen
Kitchens should be clean, clutter free and safe to work in. Ceilings and walls should not have flaking paint or cracks. Work surfaces should be smooth, without cracks or chips that can allow dirt and microbes to get in. Surfaces and sinks should be washed regularly with hot water and detergent to remove dirt and grease. The floor should also be washed regularly.
Even kitchens which look clean can harbour dirt and bacteria. Potential danger areas include:
- Under the work surface edges.
- The handles of cupboards.
- Cracks in chopping boards.
- The gap down the side of the cooker.
Pay attention to these areas.
More tips to ensure a safe kitchen:
- Clean work surfaces before you start to prepare food.
- Wash your hands in warm water and soap before touching food.
- Wash hands after going to the lavatory, or touching pets, dirty washing, or rubbish bins.
- Wash hands after touching raw food and before touching ready-to-eat food.
- Cover cuts and grazes.
- Use a separate towel to wipe hands, not the tea towel.
- Bleach, disinfect, or change kitchen cloths or sponges often.
- Wash dishes and cutlery with hot water and detergent.
- Keep pets away from food, dishes and work surfaces.
- Clear up spilt food straight away to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meat.
- Cook food thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria.
- Don't shorten cooking times given on package labels or in cookery books.
- Thaw frozen meat and poultry thoroughly, or it may not cook completely. It is best to defrost food in the fridge or by microwaving.
- Do not make recipes that include eggs which won't be cooked, such as mayonnaise. Raw eggs sometimes contain food poisoning bacteria only killed by thorough cooking.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Cooked food should only be reheated once until piping hot.
Bacteria are all around us, most are harmless, but some can cause illness. To prevent cross contamination of food it is essential to wash your hands frequently when:
- Handling food.
- After going to the toilet.
- Handling raw food and waste.
- Touching your face.
- Handling chemicals.
How to wash your hands
Use warm water and preferably antibacterial soap.
After wetting hands, apply soap and use the following procedure to clean your hands thoroughly:
- Rub palm to palm.
- Rub backs of both hands.
- Rub palm to palm with fingers.
- Rub backs of fingers (interlocked).
- Rub all parts of both hands.
- Rub both palms with fingertips.
- Rinse hands under running water and dry thoroughly on a clean towel.
- Take chilled food straight home after purchase. Put in your fridge or freezer at once.
- Prepare and store raw and cooked foods separately.
- Keep the coldest part of your fridge at 0-5°C.
- Check 'use by' dates. Don't keep food beyond this date.
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw foods, especially raw meat and poultry.
- Keep pets away from food.
- Keep you kitchen clean.
- Cook food thoroughly.
- Avoid eating food containing raw eggs, especially if you are elderly, pregnant, or a young child.