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Cooking and handling

Last updated: 01 May 2013

How you can make sure the food you cook is safe?

Chicken and chipsThe poultry industry has a responsibility to produce the safest and highest quality products for consumers. It's important for people to be aware that the food they cook at home for themselves and their family and friends can make them ill if correct hygiene practices are not followed.

The food we eat is not sterile so everybody has a role to play to ensure food is safe to eat. 

That is why the Food Standards Agency (FSA) decided to create Kitchen Check - a handy checklist with some top tips on how to improve your food safety practices.

Top tips to ensure the food you cook is safe:

  • Clear space and wash surfaces with hot, soapy water or disinfectant. Remove any pets from the kitchen;
  • Hands are one of the main ways germs are spread. You should wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water before starting any food preparation task and after touching raw meat products;
  • Make sure your fridge is set between 0°C and 5°C to prevent harmful germs from growing and multiplying. hand washing eep poultry and raw meat in covered containers on the bottom shelf to avoid raw juices contaminating other foods;
  • Wash your chopping board and knives in hot soapy water when you’ve finished with them and in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat food. When possible, use dedicated chopping boards for each type of food;
  • Change or wash your tea towels, sponges, aprons and dish-clothes at least once a week. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed;
  • Use disinfectants and cleaning products that are designed for kitchen use;
  • Make sure poultry is properly cooked by cutting into the thickest part to check it is steaming hot, with no pink meat, and that the juices run clear.

What is campylobacter?

Although usually harmless to animals, these naturally-occurring bacteria can cause food poisoning in humans. The poultry industry is working constantly to minimise the presence of campylobacter in the meat that it produces. Campylobacter organisms are naturally-occurring bacteria that can be found in the gut of many animals, including cattle, poultry, sheep, household pets and birds. Campylobacter lives harmlessly in the gut of the animals and often causes no symptoms at all.

CampylobacterDuring the slaughter and processing of animals, any bacteria present in the gut can spread to other parts of the animal and while washing processes remove most of the bacteria, some may remain. However correct cooking procedures eradicate Campylobacter in food, although the bacteria may transfer in a kitchen from contaminated to non-contaminated food if hygiene practices are substandard. It is therefore important to ensure correct hygiene practices while handling and cooking food.

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