The hygienic handling and preparation of food are of great importance in the prevention of food contamination and food poisoning. In home, it is necessary to handle your food to ensure that food is prepared as hygienically as possible. This can be achieved by following a few basic rules.
1. Personal hygiene
· Before preparing food, tie hair back, wash hands, and scrub nails clean.
· Always wash the hands after visiting the toilet.
· Never cough, sneeze, spit, or smoke over the food.
· Cover up skin infections, cuts, and grazes.
· Wear a clean apron.
· Do not lick fingers or spoons and then touch the food with them.
2. Food purchase
· Buy food from clean, reputable shops, where the assistants handle the food hygienically, and the food is stored properly.
· Check that there are no animals in food shops.
· Check the date stamps on fresh foods.
· Choose fresh foods wisely (see individual foods for factors affecting choice).
· Be wary of fresh foods sold on market stalls – they should be covered to protect them from dust and flies.
3. Food storage at home
· Store fresh foods in a cool place. Use them up fairly rapidly and certainly within the time recommended on the label or pack.
· Use up old stocks of dried and canned foods before new ones.
· Cool left-over foods rapidly and eat within 24 hours.
· Keep food protected from flies, pests, and rodents, by the use muslin cloth, plastic film, or a food net.
4. Kitchen hygiene
· Regularly wash and clean work surfaces, the cooker, and the floor.
· Keep utensils clean and well stored when not in use.
· Wipe up spills as they occur.
· Do not allow pets to sit on work surfaces or to eat from utensils and dishes that will be used for humans; some animals carry viruses and bacteria which can be passed on to humans, especially young children whose resistance is not well developed.
· Rinse out the dishcloth after use and leave to air so that it does not become stagnant. Immerse in diluted bleach or disinfectant regularly.
· Do not use the dishcloth to wash the floor.
· Use very hot water and a good detergent for washing dishes, so that all food traces are removed. Nylon brushes are useful for washing intricate pieces of equipment, e.g. cheese graters, bottle necks.
· Sterilize infant feeding bottles carefully.
· Make sure that frozen poultry pork, cream, and fish are completely thawed before cooking, and then thoroughly cooked to destroy salmonella bacteria which may be present. Incomplete thawing and cooking will provide a suitable temperature for the growth and multiplication of such bacteria, and lead to food poisoning.
· I Keep dustbins well away from the kitchen, in a cool, shaded position. Protect from flies, cats, and vermin by ensuring that food wastes are wrapped and the lid fits tightly.
· Disinfect the dustbin regularly, especially in summer. Use a bin liner if possible.
· Empty kitchen pedal bins every day, and wash out.
· Keep nappy pails out of the kitchen; leave them in the bathroom. Wrap disposable nappies hygienically in plastic bags before disposal.
· Do not allow the sink waste pipe to become clogged. Disinfect the sink regularly, to kill germs and prevent stagnation.