This is the third of the 4 ‘C’s in reference to preventing food poisoning. This refers to the storage of food, primarily in the fridge as well as dry goods such as tins, jars and bottles.

So what do you need to know about chilling in regard to preventing food poisoning?

You need to be aware of the right and wrong way of storing food in the fridge, the freezer and cupboards. Store cupboard food includes tins, jars, bottles and packets such as rice and pasta.

It is important that foods at stored in the fridge at the right temperature to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Cold temperatures kill off bacteria so ensure that your fridge is set at a temperature between 0C and 5C.

Any cooked food needs to be cooled and then stored in containers in the fridge as soon as possible. Do not leave it out on top of work surfaces as this will enable bacteria to multiply.

Using the fridge

Here are a few suggestions in regard to making the most of your fridge and reducing the risk of food poisoning.

These include:

    • Ensure that your fridge is cold enough. Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature if you are not sure.
    • Avoid any unnecessary opening and closing of the fridge door.
    • Turn down the temperature of the fridge if it is full in order for it to remain cold.
    • Do not put opened tins of food in the fridge
    • Do not place raw food, e.g. chicken on top of cooked food. Place them in sealed containers and on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This will prevent them from touching other foods.
    • Put any opened jars or bottles in the fridge. Check the instructions on the labels before you do so.
    • Place any buffet or party food in the fridge until people are ready to eat.
    • Use meat before its ‘best before’ date
    • Store cooked rice in the fridge but remember to eat it after a day. Do not reheat rice.

Using the freezer

There are certain foods which you can store in the freezer. This is an ideal way of storing extra food which is also useful if times of emergencies.

In theory, you can store food in a freezer for several years but you may find that it has degraded in quality and taste by the time you come to use it.

It is a good idea to check to see how long certain foods can be frozen for.

Most foods can be kept in a freezer and are safe to use once you are ready. However, there are a few things to consider when using a freezer which include:

    • Put frozen foods into the freezer as soon as you have purchased them. If you are not intending to use them straight away then do this to prevent them from thawing out.
    • Freeze any food before its ‘use by’ date
    • Place any frozen food in the fridge to help it to thaw out. This will stop it from becoming to too warm and is preferable to leaving it out in the kitchen. Another option is to defrost it in a microwave if you are going to be cooking it as soon as it has thawed out.
    • Use any defrosted food within one to two days or else it will decompose in the same way as fresh food.
    • Ensure that the temperature of your freezer is below minus 15C.

Using a store cupboard

This is useful for storing tins, jars, bottles and packets but you still need to take care when doing this.

Ensure that food is kept in sealed containers or packets and do not place anything on the floor as this will attract mice and other vermin.

Keep this cupboard clean, dry but not too warm. Do not store these foods in containers which have held substances other than food.

If you open a tin of food or a jar but do not use all of it then put the rest in a container and store it in the fridge. The exception to this is food in tins which have a re-sealable lid such as Golden Syrup which can be put back in the cupboard.

Cover food with cling film or kitchen foil but follow any instructions on the box before you do. Check to see what foods can be covered with either of these.

Food Poisoning Guide

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