We all love to do a bit of cooking. It truly is an art and nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing a mix and match of various, unappealing and unexciting raw ingredients transform into a beautiful, appetising, delicious dish, which fills the air with rich and potent smells, and which fills your mouth with a stunning taste, and your heart with warmth.
However, whilst cooking can be a dream, it can also become a nightmare. Disgusting food, salmonella, and terrible illness all lurk around the corner from a badly prepared meal. If you don’t take food hygiene seriously, and if you don’t put cooking and preparing food safely at the heart of the process then you’re gambling with terrible danger, and even, in the worst case scenario, death.
It is therefore absolutely critical in cooking that food is cooked completely, to a high standard, that you handle it correctly, that you avoid contaminating cooked foods, and that all food is stored correctly, and disposed of if not stored well or past the use-by date. Here are 3 tips to ensure maximum food safety.
From the air, from touching surfaces, and from other people - these are just a few of the places from which you pick up thousands of bacteria on your hands throughout the day. Generally these are harmless, but not the sort of thing you want on your food or in your meals, especially since raw meat is already covered in harmful bacteria, which can be extremely dangerous if ingested. It’s really important not to spread bacteria or dirt on to your food, or the bacteria from your raw meat, onto surfaces and cooked foods. So make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before or after handling food.
All food - yes all food, even reheats - must be cooked throughout, to an internal temperature of 75 degrees celsius! It’s no good to just look at it and decide if it seems cooked - you should get a thermometer that you can plunge into your food to find out its temperature! If you don’t have one, an alternative trick is to cut your food open and touch the inside. If it’s too hot to touch for any length of time then it’s good to go - though only do this as a last ditch, if you don’t have a more scientific method.
The way you store foods is also crucial and can affect the edibility of food. If it’s not stored at the correct temperature then it can spoil or become unsafe, way before the use-by or best-before date. Foods that are meant to be kept cool should be either frozen or refrigerated, and all foods that are meant to be kept in cool, dry places should be kept in cupboards. Also check that the fridge and freezer are cool enough and are at a correct temperature. If food is not explicitly safe for freezing, don’t risk it.
But the most important thing is not to mix cooked and uncooked food, especially meat. These must be stored separately. The harmful bacteria of raw meat can contaminate foods that have been cooked, which could then be eaten under the impression that they are perfectly safe, to disastrous effect.