Last week was the Food Safety Week, an annual event run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and this year they highlighted ways to reduce the risk of getting food poisoning at home. Here is some of their great advice to help you teach your children how to be kitchen hygiene machines.
- Maintain your fridge temperatures
Make sure your fridge is set below 5°C to prevent harmful germs from growing and multiplying. Take the time to check your fridge is at the right temperature and don’t overfill it because air needs to be able to circulate to maintain the set temperature.
- Avoid cross-contamination in a busy family kitchen
The kitchen may be referred to as the heart of the home, and is often used for more than simply cooking, but this increases the risk of cross contamination. This occurs when harmful germs are spread between food, surfaces and equipment.
Always, remove unnecessary clutter and wash worktops before and after cooking. When preparing food, use a chopping board. Wash the board and other utensils in hot, soapy water when you’ve finished using them and in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods. Better still, use a separate chopping board for each.
- Understand ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates
It is important to understand the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates.
‘Use by’ dates are typically found on perishable products, such as dairy, meat and fish, and are based on scientific testing to determine how long these foods will stay safe. After that date, food could be unsafe to eat even if it is correctly stored and looks and smells fine. If you need to store a food past its ‘use by’ date, consider freezing it.
‘Best before’ dates are used on foods that have a longer shelf life and tell us how long the food will be at its best. After that date it is normally safe to eat, but its flavour and texture might have deteriorated.
- Plan effectively to prevent waste
Planning your meals is a great way to reduce waste. Check what’s in your fridge for food you already have so you can eat it by its ‘use by’ date. When shopping check ‘use by’ dates to make sure you’ll be able to use it in time, and think about the foods you can freeze before taking advantage of special offers. You can always cook double the amount and freeze to use later.
- Help your children learn top tips from an early age
Hands are one of the main ways germs are spread, and since children are constantly using theirs to explore and play this is a great place to start. Teach them to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before eating, after playing outside, using the toilet or handling pets. You can set a good example by showing how you wash your hands after doing these, and after changing nappies, cooking and preparing raw food.
The FSA’s downloadable young people’s activities offer a fun way of helping your children learn about food safety.
The activities, as well as an online Kitchen Check you can take, can be found at: www.food.gov.uk/kitchen-check