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Students - Keep it clean!

Published Sunday, 12 October, 2014 by Beth Bradshaw

How clued up are you on your food safety and hygiene? Had a few upset stomachs since you’ve started cooking for yourself? Thought so...

Many students don’t take hygiene in the kitchen seriously, and as a result can make themselves very ill. Some studies have shown that even small kitchen hygiene mishaps are the cause of up to one million cases of food poisoning every year, so listen up!

There are a few basic tips that every student should know and stick to, that way you’ll avoid giving yourself or your flatmates any nasty bugs from cross contamination and out of date foods. Read some of the basic food safety rules below and get clued up!

  • To start with, kitchen cleanliness is really important in general. Boring as it may be, it can prevent any bacteria from building up on your kitchen surfaces. And anyway, who likes cooking in a dirty kitchen? Have an antibacterial surface cleanser spray to hand and give the surfaces a clean down after every mealtime and make sure to wash all dirty plates, cutlery and pans in hot soapy water.

  • Regularly check your fridge temperature; it should always be between 1-5 C° to prevent bacteria growth in foods.

  • Be sure to wash your hands regularly in hot water with antibacterial hand wash. Have a bottle to hand by the kitchen sink.

  • Store all raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge to prevent any juices dripping down onto other foods and contaminating them.

  • Also make sure all raw meat is separated from ready to eat foods, if they come into contact then the ready to eat foods will be contaminated and as they do not need to be cooked, the bacteria will stay there and could make you ill when you eat it.

  • Don’t leave meat out of the fridge for too long. With chicken, never leave it out for longer than two hours – this includes cooked chicken too, as room temperature can lead to a boom in bacteria growth. Always defrost overnight in the fridge and never at room temperature, as the same two hour rule applies. If you accidently leave it out for longer than two hours, my advice is don’t run the risk and chuck it away.

  • Don’t ignore the use by dates. One study has shown 43% of people ignore them and 35% don’t check – it’s no wonder there are so many food poisoning cases from household kitchens! Take them especially serious with fresh meat, for example, fresh chicken has a very short shelf life and should always be eaten before the use by date. Once opened, always use within one to two days.

  • Best before dates are different to use by dates, and are more commonly used on tinned, dried and some fresh foods such as eggs. The best before date refers to the quality of the product rather than safety, as after the BB date the quality of the food will start to deteriorate. One tip however, do not eat eggs after the best before date as the egg may contain salmonella bacteria which will multiply after this date and could therefore make you very ill.

  • Wash all fruit and vegetables – most nowadays are sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, however it’s the soil that can sometimes contain nasty traces of bacteria so be sure to always scrub them clean.

  • Make sure meats such as chicken, turkey, pork, sausages and kebabs are thoroughly cooked and piping hot. A trick to check whether they are cooked is to pierce the meat, if the juices run clear then they are cooked, if not – keep cooking!

  • Wash tea towels weekly and either use new or boil your dish twoels in boiling water for 30 minutes weekly to kill any bacteria. Always make sure to leave them to dry before you use them however, damp conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Try to use different chopping boards for different meats – use one for raw meat, one for fruit and vegetables, one for cooked meats and one for fish. This will help prevent any cross contamination.

So there we have it – try to get you and your flatmates to stick to these basic rules in the kitchen and hopefully nobody will make themselves poorly. I’d rather spend that extra 10 or so minutes cleaning the kitchen then spending hours with your head in the toilet – wouldn’t you?

Have you got any clever kitchen hygiene tips to share with other students? Share in the comments box below. Happy cleaning!

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  • We are so impressed by the recent recipes posted by students just like you! Thanks, Grace for uploading this awesome new dish.