Food poisoning occurs when food is contaminated with germs, or the toxins they produce, and is a leading cause of vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. According to the Food Standards Agency, about 12% of people suffer a bout of suspected food poisoning each year.
By following the good food hygiene practices outlined here, you can reduce the risk of what you eat making you ill.
Improving food hygiene
- Wash your hands
- Good personal hygiene is an important way to stop food bugs from spreading. Washing your hands frequently is especially important.
- Wash your hands and nails before handling food, when you switch between handling cooked and uncooked foods, and after going to the toilet.
- Use warm water and soap for washing, cold water is less effective.
- Rinse your hands well and dry them on a clean hand towel, not on the dishcloth or your apron.
- Avoid handling food if you are currently suffering from stomach problems such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Cover up cuts and sores with a waterproof plaster.
Store food correctly
Unless it is preserved, such as by canning or drying, food needs to be kept at the correct temperature. This helps to prevent bacteria from multiplying or toxins from forming. Look at the label for guidance on how to keep food.
- Always follow "Use by" dates on food.
- Follow any instructions on the packet to keep fresh food in the fridge.
- Don't overlook other instructions - for instance "once opened, keep refrigerated" or "once opened consume within three days"
- Raw food such as meat should be stored in airtight containers and kept at the bottom of the fridge to prevent juices or blood from dripping onto other food. Don't allow it to make contact with cooked food.
- Store fresh food from shopping and meal leftovers in the fridge within two hours of purchase or preparation - sooner if the weather is hot. Leftovers will cool down more quickly if you store them in small containers .
- Defrost frozen foods in the fridge - not at room temperature.
- Don't overfill the fridge - food may not cool properly.
- Keep the fridge at less than 5°C and the freezer at - 18°C.