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Keeping Your Family Safe with Proper Food Prep and Hygiene

With Covid still ‘out there’, there’s no better time to review how you prep your food when cooking, and what are safe hygiene practices in your kitchen.

Probably most of us think that we have adequate cleanliness in the kitchen, but just think about germs as our enemies, because they really are. These clever little devils take no prisoners and use the opportunity to multiply wherever they can. Statistics show that the majority of food poisonings come from the home, and how you prepare your foods has a big impact on your health. Following pretty basic rules, you can ensure that runny tummies or worse infection doesn’t occur nor spread.

Here are the basics to keep you healthy in the kitchen:

Clean and sanitize

When we were young, the older generation always said ‘wash your hands’ probably a hundred times a day. This principle applies whatever age you are and doesn’t mean a quick rinse under the cold-water tap. Foodborne illnesses are transferred rapidly if food is touched or prepared without cleanliness in mind. Cleaning your hands should be part of the whole prep and cook routine.

Keep your kitchen clean and sanitized, and importantly, keep any items you clean with, equally as clean. On old chef friend of mine used to say, ‘if in doubt, nuke it’. He is so right. Kitchen sponges and other items used for washing or drying, need to be ultra-clean or disposed of when they get mucky. If in doubt, throw it out should be your mantra.

Tip: If you really want to go overboard, microwave your sponge for 2 minutes on high. This is far safer than sanitizer or bleach cleaners. Nothing plastic though!

Keep organised and safe in the kitchen

Organising your cupboards, fridge and freezer will aid your cooking processes and keep you healthy at the same time. Knowing what you have in store and where you keep it will also stop over-buying and stocking.

For preparation of food, any surface you use obviously must be sanitized, but how many chopping boards do you use? Most households only have one or two but investing in a set of colour coded boards can prevent disease spreading, by avoiding cross-contamination between hot and cold, cooked and raw. This can occur mainly between raw and cooked foods. Colour coded boards, i.e., one for fish, one for meat, one for veg etc., will prevent one type of food transferring microbes to another. They aren’t massively expensive, so it would be sensible to spend your money on some

However, on to your fridge – a potential red flag zone. Food should be meticulously stored and sell by dates should be stuck to, even though impoverished students are usually guilty of eating out of date food! Be aware though, that out of date is not the same as ‘best before’ date. Foods marked ‘best before’ can still be eaten, as this denotes quality, rather than safety.

Without messing around, here are my ‘bullets’:

General Fridge Rules

Having worked in commercial kitchens for a great deal of my life, you may think I am being a little ‘over the top’ in my preparations, but believe me, it really is better to be safe than sorry, and most rules still apply. Sure thing, everyone breaks the rules, but just keep in mind that the consequences for your family can be pretty nasty.

Keeping your fridge clean, i.e., the body of it and the shelves and built-in containers, should be done once a week, or more if you have spillages. Keep any vents and the cooling unit clean as well.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my kitchen hygiene, but it really is wise to keep you and your family healthy. Some of it may seem obvious, but many people really do not practice safety in their kitchen environment. Keep safe and keep eating tasty and healthy food!

Author picture
Bev Perkins

An experienced chef, recipe developer, food writer and qualified nutritionist, Bev’s career has encompassed over 40 years. Educated in London and Paris, and with an unquenchable thirst for travelling, Bev’s passion for cooking evolved with a deep desire to learn about every cuisine in the globe, so whilst resident in Paris she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu (formerly L’Ecole Culinaire de Paris) and spent two years learning her art. She furthered her experience working in restaurants in all corners of the world from bistros to Michelin-Starred establishments and finally with her own catering company providing food to both corporate and individual clients. An experienced writer and editor, Bev is never happier than with a pen in one hand and cookery book in the other!

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