If you’ve ever had food poisoning you’ll be quite sure it’s an experience you never want to have again. Sometimes we know why we got it (a hotdog prepared on the side of the road seemed like a good idea while drunk) and sometimes it creeps up on us out of nowhere. Here are some common food hygiene mistakes we all make that could lead to you spending 6-8 hours hugging your toilet:
Washing your chicken It’s a fairly common misconception that you need to wash your chicken before you cook it. Chicken isn’t like lettuce or kale so step away from the tap. Cooking your chicken will kill any bacteria on it, but washing it in your sink could spread it (by splashing at your sink and then spreading around your kitchen). Do remember to thoroughly wash any utensils that came into contact with raw chicken afterwards though, and always store raw meat away from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
Using the same dishcloth for everything Think about the dishcloth you have hanging in your kitchen, what do you use it for? Most of us use the same cloth to wipe up minor spills, dry dishes, grab hot things out of the oven and more. Bacteria love damp and dirty things, making dish cloths the perfect breeding ground for them. Have colour-coded cloths that you use for specific kitchen tasks and be sure to wash them regularly.
Best before dates What’s the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates? Are they just a scam by The Man to get us to consume more? Not really. The ‘use by’ date is for your safety while the ‘best before’ date is a quality check, so less important to pay attention to. Eating something after it’s ‘use by’ date has passed could mean you get food poisoning, while eating something that’s past its ‘best before’ date is fine, it just means the texture and flavour won’t be at its best. Remember that these guidelines only apply if you are storing your food according to what it says on the packaging. You can’t be mad if that tin of tuna tastes weird if you didn’t store it at room temperature; that’s your bad.
Letting your pets in the kitchen Yes, you love your cat but remember the next time he’s licking up some spilled milk from the counter (just like in a cartoon! Cute!) that his tongue also spends a lot of time licking his butthole. Now you’ve got your cat’s butthole all over your kitchen countertops, and who knows what other germs the guy brought inside with him too. It’s also likely you keep your pets’ food bowls in the kitchen, another hygiene no-no. No matter how much you think your pet is part of the family you need to keep them out of your kitchen as best as you can. They can eat in another room, or better yet outside.
The ten second rule If you drop a piece of food on the floor but pick it up within ten seconds and blow on it a bit it’s good to eat, right? Yes and no. Studies have shown that the ten second rule is BS, with bacteria generally being picked up by a dropped piece of food in under five seconds. However, the chances of you dropping your lightly salted chip into a pool of e.coli is pretty unlikely so just use your common sense. If it’s been dropped on your kitchen tiles and you mopped yesterday it’s probably fine. If you drop a piece of pineapple on the carpet in your doctor’s waiting room? Let it go, babes.
Using your fridge and freezer incorrectly You’d think we would have the hang of our trusty fridge by now, but there are many things you could be doing wrong with freezing, defrosting and food storage. If you’re defrosting something don’t try to speed things up by putting it in the warmest part of your kitchen. Items should actually be placed in the fridge to defrost, or if you’re in a hurry use the defrost setting on your microwave. Any warm food should be cooled to room temperature before you put it in the fridge to keep it. Also, an over-stuffed fridge means the air won’t circulate properly and food won’t be kept at the correct temperature.
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