Home Healthy Eating Food Safety Week: Experts Warn of These Common Food Hygiene Mistakes You Could Be Making in Your Kitchen

Food Safety Week: Experts Warn of These Common Food Hygiene Mistakes You Could Be Making in Your Kitchen

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As the heart of any home, the kitchen is where family and friends gather to enjoy hearty meals and meaningful conversations. Many dishes will be tried and tested here, and new flavours and recipes will emerge as a result.

But for those of us who consider ourselves to be natural in the kitchen, it’s unlikely any home-grown chefs will be aware of the food hygiene standards required to ensure a space is free from cross-contamination or bacteria.

As we enter Food Safety Week, culinary experts from meal kit delivery service HelloFresh have highlighted the most common food hygiene mistakes you could be making when cooking at home.

Mimi Morley, senior recipe development manager at HelloFresh, comments, “When we eat out at a restaurant or order a takeaway, we’d always expect these establishments to follow strict guidelines when it comes to food hygiene and safety.

“When cooking at home, we’re often more relaxed about these standards, assuming that we don’t need to take the same precautions when cooking in our own kitchens. However, there are certain rules that any amateur chef should follow to avoid kitchen disasters.”

The common food hygiene mistakes in your own kitchen

Mimi highlights the common cooking and food preparation mistakes you could be making at home, along the key rules to follow to ensure best practices are met.

Avoid using wooden chopping boards when preparing meat

While it’s perfectly safe to use wooden chopping boards to prepare bread and clean fruit and vegetables, Mimi recommends avoiding chopping raw meat or seafood on these types of board.

Wood is particularly difficult to ensure is fully disinfected and often cannot be placed inside a dishwasher. Soaking your wooden chopping boards can lead to the wood warping or splitting, leaving small gaps for bacteria to cultivate.

However, Mimi assures that wooden chopping boards are a great addition to any kitchen because they won’t blunt knives and can be safely used for a number of other ingredients.

When chopping meat or fish, opt for a plastic chopping board, which is easier to keep clean and sanitised.

Cross-contamination in the fridge and freezer

As one of the key storage units in your kitchen, designed to keep food fresh and cool, our fridges and freezers should be efficiently and safely organised.

Mimi comments, “There are a number of food hygiene rules when it comes to the fridge and freezer to ensure food is properly stored and cross-contamination is avoided.

“Firstly, make sure your fridge and freezer are both regularly cleaned with antibacterial cleaning products and make sure to immediately wipe away any spills. If your freezer is prone to ice build up, you should aim to defrost it at least once a year.

“When it comes to safely storing items in your fridge, you should operate on a food-type basis. Any ready-to-eat foods should be kept on the top shelf, such as cooked meats and packaged foods. On the next shelf down, place any dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, butter or eggs.

“Raw meat and seafood should be individually wrapped and stored on the bottom shelf; this is to avoid any juices leaking onto other produce. Use the salad drawer to store any fresh fruit and vegetables.

“It’s also crucial to not store any cooked items in the fridge or freezer until they are fully cooled. This is because placing hot items of food in the fridge could raise the temperature inside, putting other items stored here at risk.”

Leaving ingredients out during warm weather

During BBQ season, it’s easy to get carried away with hosting guests and forget about food left on the side in the kitchen. But there are hidden dangers of leaving meat out at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply rapidly on meat left out for more than two hours, and even quicker in the summer heat.

Mimi advises always refrigerating meat promptly and avoiding thawing it on the kitchen side. Instead, use the fridge, cold water, or the microwave to defrost meat safely.

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