Learn how germs spread in the kitchen and how to help protect your family from food-borne illnesses with simple cleaning and disinfecting tips.
Safe Food Preparation
Following proper food safety practices is important for your health and the health of your family. Because you cannot see, taste or smell illness-causing germs, correct food storage and preparation procedures are necessary to keep food safe. These basic steps will help you to reduce the threat of food-borne illness.
Take care with personal hygiene.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling any food and immediately after handling any raw food, such as meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
- Do not use tea towels to dry your hands.
- Always use a clean dry towel.
- Do not sneeze or cough near food.
- Avoid preparing food for others if you are ill.
- Keep any cuts and sores on your hands covered while preparing food.
Clean and disinfect hand contact surfaces.
To help stop germs spreading, it is important to regularly clean and disinfect the surfaces in your kitchen that you often touch with your hands, such as the fridge door handle, cupboard handles, taps, waste bin and door handles.
Clean and disinfect food preparation surfaces.
You need to clean and disinfect food contact surfaces before putting any food on them and immediately after contact with any raw food (e.g. poultry, meat, fish, eggs). After touching raw food you should also clean and disinfect any surfaces that you may have contaminated with germs (e.g. fridge door handle, taps).
- You can decontaminate small items such as crockery, cutlery and pans by scrubbing them in hot water and detergent, then rinsing them thoroughly with clean running water.
- Large or fixed items, that you cannot rinse under a tap, such as work surfaces, taps and handles need to be cleaned and then disinfected using a kitchen disinfecting product, such as Dettol Surface Cleanser or Dettol Surface Cleaning Wipes.
Avoid cross-contamination. Cross-contamination happens when germs spread from one food to another, directly or via surfaces or hands.
Separate raw and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, and storing.
- In the refrigerator: Keep washed salad items in the salad compartment, cooked and ready-to-eat food at the top, and raw meat covered at the bottom.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with clean water before using them.
- Never place cooked or ready-to-eat food on a plate or surface that previously held raw food (e.g. uncooked meat, poultry, fish, eggs).
- Avoid contact between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods by using separate chopping boards and knives. Try designating one board for fresh fruit and vegetables, and one for raw meats, poultry, and seafood.
- After use, clean and disinfect chopping boards, or put them through a dishwasher on a hot wash (at least 60ºC).
- Wash knives, dishes and utensils thoroughly.
Cook food thoroughly.
You need to cook food thoroughly to kill any germs in it, and reheat food properly to kill any germs that have multiplied in it since it was cooked.
- Cook food thoroughly and evenly, so that it is steaming hot all the way through.
- Only reheat food once, and check food is steaming hot all the way through.
Chill food promptly.
Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours or sooner.
- Put any frozen food you buy in the freezer straight away.
- Keep salads, perishable foods and eggs in the fridge.
- Set the fridge at 5ºC or below and check the temperature regularly.
- Keep the freezer at or below minus 18ºC.
- If cooked food is not going to be eaten immediately, cool it and put it in the fridge within 2 hours.
- Use up any leftovers within 48 hours.
- Thoroughly defrost food before cooking (unless the instructions say cook from frozen).
- Ideally, defrost frozen food in the fridge.
- Once food has defrosted, keep it in the fridge and use it within 24 hours.
- Only defrost food in the microwave if it is going to be eaten straight away.
- Never refreeze food.
- Check use-by dates, and throw away food if the date has passed.
- Check labels to see if you need to put foods in the fridge after opening.
Put new supplies at the back of the fridge or freezer and bring older items to the front, to remind you to use them first.