There are four main things to remember for good food hygiene - we've called
them the 4 Cs. You should think about them whenever you're in the kitchen.
The 4 Cs
You can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by observing good personal hygiene
and keeping work surfaces, utensils etc clean.
It's important to wash your hands regularly, especially:
- After visiting the toilet
- After handling raw foods
- Before touching ready-to-eat food
- Don't handle food when you are ill with stomach problems, such as diarrhoea
- Don't touch food if you have sores or cuts, unless they are covered with
a waterproof dressing
Proper cooking kills food poisoning bacteria such as listeria, salmonella,
E.coli 0157 and campylobacter. It's important to cook food thoroughly, especially
meat. Make sure that food is cooked right through and piping hot in the middle.
When reheating food make sure it's piping hot all the way through and don't
reheat it more than once.
It's very important to keep certain foods at the right temperature to prevent
bacteria growing or toxins forming. Always look at the label on the packaging.
If it says that the food needs to be refrigerated, make sure you keep it in
If food that needs to be chilled is left standing at room temperature, food
poisoning bacteria can grow and multiply to dangerous levels. Cooked leftovers
should be cooled quickly and then put in the fridge. Putting food in shallow
containers and dividing it into smaller amounts will speed up the cooling process.
Cross-contamination is the transfer of bacteria from foods (usually raw) to
other foods. The bacteria can be transferred when one food touches (or drips
onto) another, or indirectly, for example from hands, equipment, work surfaces
or knives and other utensils. Cross-contamination is one of the major causes
of food poisoning.
To prevent cross-contamination:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food
- Keep raw ready-to-eat foods separate
- Store raw meat in sealable containers at the bottom of the fridge, so it
can't drip onto other foods
- Use different chopping boards/work surfaces for raw food and ready-to-eat
- Clean knives and other utensils thoroughly after use with raw food
Why is it important to report food poisoning?
If you think your illness has been caused by food from a restaurant or other
food business, the local environmental health department needs to know so it
can investigate the business in question. If the environmental health officers
find a problem with the business's food hygiene practices, and get the business
to improve them, this could help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.