Food Hygiene – Beat the Bacteria!

It is important to handle food safely to lower the risk of becoming ill with food poisonings such as Salmonella, E-coli, or  Campylobacter.  

Christmas is almost here and celebrations will soon be on the way to the traditional Christmas day feast.  Handling food safely is important to protect yourself and those you are cooking for.  Poultry needs preparing in the most hygienic way because it is a big bacteria risk.  Christmas is to enjoy, not to end up in bed or even hospital with food poisoning.  Food hygiene should be practiced at all times and not just Christmas.  

RitaE / Pixabay

It all begins with hand washing. The hand’s house many types of bacteria, some are more tolerable and friendly than others.  Hands should be washed before handling any kind of food and especially after handling raw meat. Never touch any foods or surfaces after handling raw meat because the bacteria will be there and it will start to multiply very quickly.  If you have taps you cannot turn on by the elbows, wearing the latex type gloves (if you are allergic to latex there are alternatives) to handle the meat and then instantly throw away before touching anything else is an option.  To remove the gloves take the bottom of one and pull it off so it goes inside out then remove the other one in the same way.  Put one glove inside the other and discard safely, then wash your hands.  Disposables aprons are another great way to help reduce the risk of food poisoning.  Wash your hands properly.  Tea towels and dishcloths if left damp is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow!

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Other Different Kinds of Hazards

  • Allergenic– food allergy to certain types of food, such as shellfish, nuts, eggs or dairy products.  There could be an intolerance to gluten – coeliac disease (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley), or a dairy intolerance.
  • Microbial – bacteria, virus, molds and yeast.  Bacteria are everywhere.  It is found in food, in the air, in dust particles, on people, equipment, pests, soil, water and food waste.
  • Chemical Pesticide – residues on raw vegetables and fruit, cleaning chemicals, plants that are poisonous such as wild mushrooms.  Bait used to kill pests.
  • Physical –  Jewellery (especially watches and bracelets).  Hair, fingernails, broken glass, pieces of bone or shell, dust and dirt, plasters, bits of string, droppings from pests or dead bodies.


skeeze / Pixabay

Bacteria like E-coli and Campylobacter is found naturally in animal intestines and the environment.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), is an airborne bacterium and is found in the ears, nose, throat and skin.  It lives in large quantities in the intestine.

Bacteria multiply in 10-20 minutes.  One bacterium becomes two,  two become four and the multiplication carries on. Bacteria need time, warmth, moisture and nutrients (food) to grow. The danger temperatures for bacteria is 5 degrees centigrade to 63 degrees centigrade.  The ideal temperature for bacteria growth is 37 degrees centigrade (the normal body temperature).

Mold and yeast are visible bacteria,  you can see them on bread or cheese. If mold is visible, discard the entire food item, because although it is not visible four slices down in the loaf of bread, the bacteria is present and growing in the entire food product.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning, makes the sufferer feel extremely ill.  The symptoms are stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Young babies, nursing mothers and pregnant women, and the elderly are in a high-risk category of becoming very ill with food poisoning.  People who have been seriously ill and patients who are receiving treatment, such as chemotherapy are other high-risk types.

Handle Food Safely

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food.  Wear a clean or disposable apron/gloves.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • If wearing false nails, or nail polish, put on disposable gloves.
  • Remove wrist jewelry and stone rings, (these carry more bacteria).
  • Wipe down the chopping board or worktop with an anti-bacterial chemical.
  • Wash raw vegetables, salad foods, and fruit, to remove any pesticide particles.
  • Clean as you go along.
  • Remove food waste to the bin tied up in sacks or old carrier bags.  Make sure the lid is firmly shut, this helps to keep vermin at bay.
  • When finished preparing/cooking, sanitize the work surfaces and chopping boards and store utensils in clean cupboards and draws.
  • Have separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables.  Don’t contaminate your food.  
  • Wash your hands!


Like all fridge foods cheese, milk, sandwich meats, fresh raw meats, butter, fish, tomatoes, and salad foods, need to be kept at a certain cool temperature.   Keeping foods chilled removes the warmth that bacteria require to grow.  

Remember the danger temperature for bacteria to grow is 5 degrees centigrade to 63 degrees centigrade.   

Store refrigerated food at 5 degrees centigrade or below. Food taken from the fridge will begin to grow bacteria in around two hours.  In the summer months when the temperature is warmer or very hot, bacteria can start to form sooner.  If food is left out in a very warm room in colder months this would have the same effect as the summer months.  

Store frozen food at 18 degrees centigrade or below.

Keep hot food at a temperature at least 63 degrees centigrade or above.  Make sure this will not destroy the food by overheating if the food is to be kept warm for a long period.  It would be best to let it cool, refrigerate then re-heat making sure it is piping hot throughout.  

Cooking destroys the bacteria already present in raw meats, vegetables, fruits and, fish the heat destroys the risk.     Meats (especially poultry) need to be cooked through and no pink remaining, use a probe to test it.   Frozen ready meals cooked straight from the freezer need to be piping hot before eating.  Always defrost foods to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

Cover Foods Up

Keep foods covered up when preparing from pest invasions such as flies (especially in the summer months) and other insects.  There are dome food protectors that can keep food hygienically safe.

Use By/Best Before Dates

Use By/Best Before Dates –  any foods that are not consumed by the use by date need discarding.    Foods that have a best before date means the food will taste better before that date.

Reduce the risk of becoming ill from food bacteria and handle food safely.  


© Janhorner

[Featured image: Pixabay]

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