Whether it’s a picnic in the park or a barbecue at home, there’s no better way to enjoy the summer sun than eating outdoors. Dining in the garden is a favourite pastime during the warmer months, but we must remember to store and handle food safely to prevent unwanted ill health.
Food safety is a necessity in warmer climes, as fresh food products spoil more easily and harmful bacteria can quickly multiply. Maintaining high standards of personal and food hygiene is crucial to prevent food poisoning which could easily result in serious bouts of sickness and have debilitating effects on our wellbeing.
To help you to stay healthy and fit this summer, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) offers some expert guidance and advises us to remember the four C’s: cleaning, cooking, chilling and avoiding cross-contamination.
- Cleaning - Washing hands regularly is a basic rule which we should all adhere to and this includes before and after handling raw food; after using the bathroom; and after touching pets or bins.
- Cooking – Poultry, meat and many types of seafood must be cooked properly to eliminate bacteria. Always ensure that chicken is cooked thoroughly in the middle.
- Chilling – The warmer weather means that food can quickly deteriorate and fresh food and dairy products need to be stored at the correct temperature. Always ensure that these perishable food items are stored in a refrigerator and not left out in the sun or at room temperature for extended periods of time. Make sure that the fridge temperature is set between 0-5C so that food is chilled at the correct temperature.
- Avoiding cross-contamination – never store raw meat and poultry next to cooked food and always ensure that raw meat is packaged in sealable containers at the bottom of your fridge so that it cannot drip onto other foods. Do not wash raw meat or poultry!
When dining outdoors, food can often be left uncovered and exposed to higher temperatures. Always remember to refrigerate fresh produce such as salads, coleslaw and desserts until they are needed. Bacteria can easily accumulate and food quality will deteriorate rapidly!
Food poisoning is a serious issue caused by eating contaminated food and many people are affected each year. In most cases, the food is contaminated by bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli, or the norovirus - so, make sure that you follow this expert advice for ultimate food safety and enjoy a healthy summer in the sun!