If you’ve ever had food poisoning or gotten ill because of food in some way, you’ll know just how unpleasant it is. While in most cases it will mean a couple of days throwing up, in some cases it can land you in the hospital or even cause death!
If you’re already vulnerable due to your age or health status or you’re exposed to a particularly nasty strain then this is how serious it can really be. We have a responsibility to ensure that we don’t get ourselves or our family ill from food, here are some of the ways we can go about it.
Keep the kitchen clean and tidy
First things first, keeping the kitchen clean and tidy is so important. The average kitchen can contain two hundred times more bacteria than a toilet, and so if you start getting lazy with this you could end up getting seriously ill. Keep countertops as clear as possible, avoiding clutter.
Keep out only the things you use on a very regular basis with everything else stored into cupboards and drawers. This prevents bacteria and food splashes flying onto things that are difficult to clean. Wipe down surfaces daily using an antibacterial spray.
Clean your sink and draining board thoroughly, and leave it to soak with bleach each evening. This prevents cross contamination and getting bacteria all over items you’re trying to wash up! If you’re guilty of leaving dirty dishes out for longer than you should, invest in a dishwasher and put them straight in once they’ve been used.
Don’t forget to clean out your fridge, oven, microwave and cupboards on a regular basis too. It can be a real chore keeping the kitchen clean, no one’s denying that. But it’s so important, you can make yourself really ill if you consume bacteria that’s been left around.
Be wary of sponges and cloths
Once you’ve given your kitchen a good clean, don’t be tempted to throw the cloth or sponge in the sink and forget about it. These can harbour SO much bacteria, they sit and fester and next time you wipe down the sides you’re unwittingly spreading germs all over the place.
Either soak them in the bleach solution you’ve left in the sink overnight, or put them into the washing machine. Most cloths and sponges will last multiple washes and it ensures that they’re completely clean each time you use them. Using paper towels or kitchen roll is another option.
Use colour coded chopping boards
Even if you keep your kitchen spotless, it’s still possible to spread dangerous bacteria around without realising by using chopping boards incorrectly. If you use one to chop meat, and then use it again to prepare salad for example then you’re getting the bacteria from the uncooked meat all over your food.
Colour-coded chopping boards promote food hygiene and are recommended for any kitchen- both domestic and commercial. Use only the meat chopping board for meat, the fish for fish, the vegetables for vegetables and so on. It’s a good practice to get into, and you know that you’ll never accidentally cross contaminate.
Chicken especially harbours a number of food poisoning bacterias and can be so dangerous, but any raw meat can make you ill so you have to be vigilant.
Wash hands thoroughly
Another way to avoid cross contamination is to get into good hand washing practices. Wash your hands every time you’re about to prepare a meal, thoroughly with hot water and anti bacterial hand wash.
Wash your hands in between touching raw meat or fish too, and wash your hands before you eat. This stops any bacteria you’ve picked up from entering your body through your food and making you ill.
Store food correctly
If food isn’t stored correctly, it can allow bacteria to breed. You need to ensure your fridge or freezer is at the right temperature- things like warm weather or overcrowding can both reduce it’s efficiency so be sure to check the thermostat.
Make sure foods are properly covered when put into the fridge, Tupperware plastic as well as glass boxes and mason jars are good for storing food, keeping it fresh and keeping the bacteria out.
There’s lots of advice online about the best ways to store your food so do some research, if you’re in the habit of tossing items into the fridge and leaving them to fester then it’s time to make a change.
Be particularly wary of keeping things like takeout food, where you don’t know exactly when it was cooked.