Food hygiene and food poisoning

In decades gone by, ‘healthy eating’ meant avoiding food poisoning. Nowadays our more hygiene-conscious society insists on scrupulously clean conditions for food growing, preparation, manufacture and handling. Consequently outbreaks of serious food poisoning are now rare, although when they do occur they attract considerable attention from the media. Food poisoning these days is nearly always caused by faulty preparation and/or cooking of food, often in the home. The rules for its prevention are simple: . make sure the kitchen and cooking implements, as well as the cook’s hands, are scrupulously clean, . keep food away from flies, rodents and other pests, and keep animals (including pets) away from food-preparation areas, . store perishable food in clean, covered containers, preferably in a refrigerator, . do not re-freeze food once it has thawed, . wash vegetables and fruit well, . reject any food that looks, smells or tastes suspicious – our instincts are to be trusted, . obey ‘eat by’ dates and storage/cooking instructions on packets – they are there to protect your health, . never eat wild fungi, berries or other items unless you are absolutely certain they are safe; you could put your life at risk, . throw away meat left-overs that have been at room temperature for more than two or three hours, . if you must re-heat food, make sure you re-cook it rather than just ‘warm it up’, . dispose of waste properly in covered bins with plastic liners. 29

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