Every year 5.5 million people in the UK suffer a bout of food poisoning. Most cases are caused by strains of Salmonella and Campylobacter which usually enter or get into the body by eating undercooked or contaminated food.
You may think your kitchen is hygienic, but it’s easy for even clean cooking spaces to become a source of food poisoning. Bacteria multiply fast and to do so all they need are food, moisture, warmth and a little time.
In the right conditions one single organism can become 4 million in just eight hours. So if some food has a tiny amount of dangerous bacteria and you leave it out of the fridge overnight – bacteria multiply best at anywhere between 5 and 63°C – it could be dangerous by the morning.
Kept in the fridge at temperatures below 5°C, most bacteria multiply very slowly, if at all. At very low temperatures, such as in your freezer, some bacteria will die, but many survive and can start to multiply again. Cooking food thoroughly so it reaches a temperature of at least 70°C all the way through will kill bacteria that may be present.
Most cases of food poisoning are avoidable if you simply remember the four “C’s”:
- Clean your hands thoroughly using soap and water before preparing food.
- Chill food properly, at below 5°C.
- Cook food right through. Check meat is well cooked inside by using a meat thermometer or by sliding a sharp knife into the thickest part and checking for pink-ness.
- Cross-contamination – avoid it! Don’t let raw meat and fish touch anything cooked, and prepare meat on a separate surface to other foods. In the fridge keep raw meat and uncooked foods covered and keep them well away from foods that are ready to eat.