Avoiding accidental illness in the kitchen

It’s been in the news recently that washing raw meat and poultry before you cook it is something you shouldn’t do. The news explains how washing chicken in particular can spread bacteria around your kitchen and result in some pretty nasty illnesses.

For many, washing a piece of meat before cooking was part of the everyday cooking routine, but how many other misconceptions are there when it comes to kitchen cleanliness? Here, we take a look at the best ways to ensure your kitchen is clean and safe, as advised by NHS Choices.

Firstly, it may seem obvious, but washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water is one of the best ways to avoid the spread of bacteria. Although many do wash their hands once they’ve finished handling raw food, it’s important to wash them before touching anything else mid-preparation. Even if you’re just opening a cupboard or putting something away in the middle of preparing the meat, any bacteria from that is on your hands will then spread onto the things you touch, spreading the germs around your kitchen. You must also ensure you wash your hands before beginning food preparation.

Another important factor that the NHS advises is to consider is the temperature of your fridge. Your fridge should be set between 0˚C and 5˚C, and anything raw should be stored in a sealed container on the bottom shelf. Food contamination and meat or poultry not being stored at the correct temperature is another cause of illness in the kitchen.

As well as this, expert advice recommends that regularly washing your dish cloths, tea towels and aprons is another important way to prevent bacteria spreading around your home. Only wearing your apron in the kitchen - and making sure anything that anything spilt on it is properly cleaned - will also help reduce contamination.

Although these steps may seem simple, it is surprising to see that research from the Food Standards Agency has shown they are often not followed. Bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, which occur as a result, can cause food poisoning and other nasty illnesses. Food poisoning can vary in severity, although each year results in the hospitalisation of around 20,000 people, and kills around 500 of every one million people who suffer from it.

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