This is the first of the four ‘C’s in relation to preventing food poisoning. It refers to washing the hands before handling food; washing down kitchen worktops; cleaning chopping boards, knives and other kitchen utensils; and rinsing unwashed fruit and vegetables before eating.

Do NOT wash raw chicken, meat or fish before cooking as this does not remove any harmful bacteria plus any splashes of water can transmit bacteria around the kitchen.

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

This section refers to the preparation of food as well as keeping surfaces and utensils nice and clean.

Food preparation

This is a wide ranging area which includes the following suggestions:

    • Wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water before you touch any food. Make sure you also do this after you have visited the toilet and before you handle food.
    • Also wash your hands every time you handle raw meat, chicken or fish. Also do this after touching or stroking any pets or after touching the waste bin. Make sure you thoroughly dry your hands as well.
    • Keep raw and cooked foods separate before you prepare them. Make sure that any chopping boards and utensils which have been used for raw food are thoroughly cleaned before you use them for cooked food. If possible, use separate chopping boards and utensils
    • Check ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates on food labels before preparation.
    • Buy poultry/game or fish which has already been gutted/filleted before use.
    • Do not wash raw poultry before use
    • Rinse unwashed salad, fruit and vegetables under the cold tap before eating them. This removes soil and debris which contain bacteria or parasites.
    • Do not handle food if you have any open cuts or sores.
    • Avoid handling food if you have any gastrointestinal illness.

Keeping the kitchen clean

It is important to keep the kitchen clean and free from bacteria whenever possible. This will reduce the risk of bacteria spreading and causing infection.

So consider the following suggestions:

  • Wipe down all worktops. Wash chopping boards by hand or if you prefer, put them in a dishwasher. Ensure that you wipe up any spilt foods or liquids and keep raw and cooked foods separate.
  • Wash all utensils in hot water and soap, or put them in the dishwasher.
  • Wash tea towels, dishcloths and general purpose cloths on a regular basis. Dirty or stained tea towels are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria so it is important to wash them frequently. Replace them with new ones on a regular basis.
  • If you wipe your hands on a tea towel after handling raw meat then this will transmit bacteria onto this towel. If you then use this towel to dry a cup or plate then this will further spread these bacteria. It may be a better idea to use disposable kitchen roll instead.

Finally, ensure that any food or drink you serve is put onto clean plates and into clean cups.

Food Poisoning Guide

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