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Food safety at home


Food poisoning from cooked foods often occurs as a reslt of cross contamination from raw foods.

Tips on barbecuing food safely

Summer is a time for enjoying barbecues - however, it is also a time when the risk of food poisoning increases - so follow some simple steps to stay safe.

When you're barbecuing, the biggest risk of food poisoning is from raw and undercooked meat, such as chicken, burgers, sausages and kebabs.

If you're barbecuing for lots of people, it may be simplest to cook the meat indoors and then just finish it off on the barbecue for added flavour.

  • Always make sure that food is piping hot all the way through when you reheat items on the barbecue
  • Wait until the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook.
  • Make sure frozen food is properly thawed before you start to cook it
  • Turn the food regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly
  • Check that the centre of the food is piping hot
  • Don't assume that if the meat is charred on the outside that it will be cooked properly on the inside - check the meat is not showing pink and any juices are running clear
  • Keep any raw meat away from ready to eat food
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat
  • Use separate untensils for raw and cooked meats
  • Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat
  • Keep raw meat in a sealed container away from ready to eat foods, such as burger buns and salads.
  • Don't put raw meat products next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue
  • Don't add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat

Packed lunches and picnics

The question of storage facilities in school premises for children's lunch boxes should be given due consideration. As packed lunches are often made in advance, sometimes by several hours, and as they frequently include high-risk food items, such as meat, poultry, dairy products, etc., the potential dangers from food poisoning are real. Head teachers can play an important part, particularly on warm days when higher temperatures create a greater need for careful preparation and storage of food.

Firstly, parents can be given helpful advice and guidance on packed lunch safety, which can be circulated to via school newsletter and bulletin boards.

Secondly, the storage facilities at schools should be examined to see if they can be improved. The following guidelines should be considered when deciding whether the present storage conditions in your school are suitable.

  • Store lunch boxes away from heat sources, such as pipe work, radiators and air ducts.
  • Store lunch boxes in cool, well-ventilated areas.
  • Keep lunch boxes out of direct sunlight.
  • Ensure that lunch boxes are stacked so that air can circulate freely between them.
  • Encourage parents to use insulated cool boxes or bags and/or frozen inserts.
  • Consider fund-raising to provide classroom or dining-room refrigerators.

Please remember that many manufacturers and mail order companies, suppliers of small frozen inserts for use in children's lunch boxes welcome bulk orders, often with discount offers, e.g. Thermos, Lakeland Plastics.

Local suppliers include Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc


Meat preparation and cooking advice

  • Clean and disinfect the raw meat preparation area before you start. This area must be separate from any area in which cooked meat is handled. A detergent solution should be used to clean surfaces before they are disinfected. It is important to use the correct disinfectant for surfaces and equipment which will not adversely affect the food, and to use it at the appropriate concentration. For guidance on the use of disinfectants see point "Help available", below. 
  • Wash your hands before and after handling the raw meat.

  • To cook meat safely so that E-Coli 0157, Salmonella and Listeria are killed, the centre of the meat must reach a core temperature of at least 70°C for 2 minutes or an equivalent temperature/time combination (see below), or until the juices run clear.
  • Make sure your cooking equipment can achieve this consistently.
  • The cooking process must be monitored. You should record the core temperature of at least one item from every cook, using a probe thermometer. Wash and disinfect the probe thermometer after each use. Remember to check the accuracy of the thermometer regularly.

The cooked product should be cooled as quickly as possible in order to prevent the growth of food poisoning bacteria, and then kept under refrigeration. Remember the smaller the joint of meat, the quicker it cools.

  • Clean and disinfect the cooked product handling area, which must be separate from any area in which raw products are handled.
  • Always wash your hands before handling cooked products. All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use on cooked foods.
  • Never allow raw foods or any other products, used utensil or tool, or surface likely to cause contamination, to come into contact with cooked foods.

  • 65°C - 10 mins
  • 70°C - 2 mins
  • 75°C - 30 secs
  • 80°C - 6 secs

  • A member of our food safety team will be only too pleased to help you if you need any advice on the safe handling of foods, and disinfectants.
  • The food safety team have issued an informative e-coli and gas safety advice letter (the DVD mentioned in the letter is only available for butchers).


What to do if your freezer breaks down

If your freezer breaks down, you may wonder what to do with the contents.

Double bag all food contents and dispose of in your normal refuse bin. Alternatively the contents can be taken to one of our household waste recycling centres.

Before disposing of the contents It is worthwhile checking with your home insurance as some policies cover freezer breakdown.

For your information, our household waste recycling centres do accept large items such as fridges/freezers. If you are unable to dispose of your freezer, our rubbish and recycling service can arrange to collect it for a small charge.


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Last updated: 23 January 2017 | Last reviewed: 23 January 2017