Most cases of food poisoning occur from food that has been cooked at home. Campylobacter is the most common germ that causes food poisoning in England, followed by Salmonella. Both of these food poisoning bacteria are most commonly associated with poultry, although other foods may be contaminated with these bugs.
When preparing and cooking food at home you should remember the 4 C's:
A clean kitchen is usually a healthy kitchen, although bacteria may still lurk on surfaces that appear to be spotless. Remember that if the cloth or towel that you are using to clean is dirty, you will spread the dirt around the kitchen.
It is recommended that anti-bacterial spray is used to clean food preparation surfaces, although hot water and a suitable detergent will also reduce most germs to an acceptable level.
Regular hand washing is also essential, especially after handling raw meat.
Raw foods such as meat, vegetables and fish can carry harmful germs before being cooked. The cooking process will usually kill any harmful bugs that may be on food.
Cross contamination occurs when germs are transferred from raw foods to ready to eat foods.
To avoid cross contamination remember to wash hands thoroughly after handling raw foods.
Disinfect any work surfaces or chopping boards used to chop raw foods.
Store raw foods at the bottom of the fridge so they cannot drip onto other foods.
Cover all food in the fridge or freezer.
Keeping food in the fridge or freezer will stop harmful germs from growing to a level where they may make you ill. Fridges should operate below 8C and freezers below -18C.
All high risk, perishable foods should be kept chilled.
The safest way of defrosting food is to do it slowly overnight in the fridge.
If you are cooling any food down, such as leftovers, this should be done as quickly as possible with food then being covered and put into the fridge.
Heat kills most germs. If food is thoroughly cooked it is almost always safe to eat.
Test that meat is cooked sufficiently by placing a clean fork or skewer into the thickest part and seeing if the juice runs clear. Alternatively, buy a digital probe thermometer and check that the food is cooked to above 75C.