Foods that need extra care
Some foods need to be treated with extra care to make sure they are safe to eat.
Ready-to-eat food will not be cooked or reheated before serving. These include salads,cold meats,smoked fish,desserts, sandwiches,cheese and food that you have cooked in advance to serve cold.
To protect food from harmful bacteria:
When preparing fruit, vegetables and salad ingredients:
Make sure ready-to-eat food stored in the fridge and cold display units must be kept between 1°C to 4°C.
Why? If these types of food are not kept cold enough, harmful bacteria could grow.
Do not use ready-to-eat food after the ‘use by’ date, if there is one.
Why? You should never use food that has passed its ‘use by’ date because it might not be safe to eat.
Slicing cooked meats-follow the manufacturers instructions and do not handle meat with bare hands, wear disposable gloves or use tongs.
Why? Meat slicers need careful cleaning and disinfecting to prevent dirt building up and to stop harmful bacteria growing, in particular on the slicing blade. Hands can easily spread harmful bacteria onto food.
You should not use the same machinery and equipment,such as vacuum packing machines,slicers and mincers for both raw and ready-to-eat food. This is because,it is not possible to clean equipment thoroughly enough to be sure all harmful bacteria have been removed. Any bacteria could then spread to ready-to-eat food. If you are preparing both raw and ready-to-eat food, you should make sure where possible this is done in separate clean and disinfected areas. If this is not possible, surface and utensils used must be thoroughly cleaned and then disinfected between tasks. Make sure staff wash their hands thoroughly between tasks,especially when working with raw and ready-to-eat food. This stops bacteria being spread onto foods, surfaces and equipment.
If you think that a food delivery has not been handled safely,reject the delivery.
Cook eggs and foods containing eggs thoroughly until they are steaming hot.
Why? Eggs can contain harmful bacteria. If you cook them thoroughly this kills any bacteria. Use pasteurised egg (not ordinary eggs) in any food that will not be cooked, or only lightly cooked e.g. mayonnaise and mousse.
Why? Pasteurisation also kills bacteria,which is why pasteurised egg is the safest option.
Do not use eggs after the ‘best before’ date. Make sure you rotate stock and use the oldest eggs first.
Why? After this date, there is a greater chance of harmful bacteria growing in the eggs
When you have cooked rice, make sure you keep it hot until serving or chill it down as quickly as possible and then keep it in the fridge. The problems tend to arise as rice is cooked in large batches,cooled too slowly,then not reheated to 75ºC.
Why? Rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus that may not be killed by cooking or reheating.
You can make rice chill down more quickly by dividing it into smaller portions, spreading it out on a clean tray, or running it under cold water (make sure the water is clean and drinking quality).
Why? If cooked rice is left at room temperature, spores can multiply and produce toxins that cause food poisoning. Reheating will not get rid of these.
Follow the instructions on the packaging on how to soak and cook dried pulses, such as beans.
Why? Pulses can contain natural toxins that could make people ill unless, they are destroyed by the proper method of soaking and cooking. Save yourself the hassle,get tinned pulses,they will have been soaked and cooked already.
Make sure you buy shellfish from a reputable supplier
Why? If you do not use a reputable supplier,you cannot be confident that shellfish have been caught and handled safely. Crabs, crayfish and lobster should be prepared by someone with specialist knowledge.
Why? Some parts of these shellfish cannot be eaten and some are even poisonous,so it is important to know how to remove these parts safely.
Shellfish such as prawns and scallops will change in colour and texture when they are cooked. For example,prawns turn from blue-grey to pink and scallops become milky white and firm. Langoustines (also called scampi or Dublin Bay prawns) are pink when raw and the flesh becomes firm and pink-white when they are cooked. If you use ready-cooked (pink)prawns, serve them cold or reheat them until they are piping hot all the way through.
Before cooking mussels and clams,throw away any with open or damaged shells.
Why? If the shell is damaged or open before cooking, the shellfish might not be safe to eat.
To check that a mussel or clam is cooked, make sure the shell is open and that the mussel or clam has shrunk inside the shell. If the shell has not opened during cooking,throw it away.
Make sure you buy fish from a reputable supplier. If you buy fresh fish make sure you store it between 0°C to 4°C. If you buy frozen fish then keep it frozen at -18° until you are ready to use it.
Why? Certain types of fish,such as mackerel,tuna,anchovies and herrings,can cause food poisoning if not kept at the correct temperature.
Raw chicken: Do not wash raw chicken
Do not wash raw chicken,as splashing water from washing chicken can spread campylobacter. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. Campylobacter can be spread easily and just a few bacteria could cause illness. This could come from raw or undercooked chicken, or from contamination due to washing raw chicken. Campylobacter infections typically cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea for between two and five days.
Cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them.
Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.
Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear. Thorough cooking to 75°C will kill any campylobacter present.
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