How safe is your kitchen? New campaign aims to highlight hidden dangers in food prep in Scotland

Advertisement feature: Hidden food dangers can have disastrous results, and we don’t simply mean burning the family dinner
Simple food prep rules can cut the risk to you and your loved onesSimple food prep rules can cut the risk to you and your loved ones
Simple food prep rules can cut the risk to you and your loved ones

Roast chicken and all the trimmings, a delicious home-made tikka masala packed full of flavour, chicken and ham pie with seasonal veg – we all want inspiration to feed ourselves and our families healthy, affordable meals.

But cutting corners when cooking could cost more than money, and the latest guidance from Food Standards Scotland hopes to raise awareness about simple mistakes which could cost lives.

What is food poisoning?

Few of us have escaped a dodgy tummy after a meal, and contaminated food or surfaces when preparing food is almost always to blame.

Why is campylobacter such a worry?

This bacterial form of food poisoning can be particularly vicious, causing diarrhoea (sometimes bloody), stomach pain, high temperature and occasionally vomiting. People can end up in hospital, and if you are in a vulnerable group – especially the elderly – the results can be fatal. The bacteria can survive on food, and one of the biggest offenders is raw chicken.

Poor food hygiene when handling or preparing raw chicken causes the bacteria to spread on to hands, surfaces or the meal itself.

Who are most at risk?

Campylobacter can hit anyone of any age, but elderly people are particularly susceptible to it and their health can go downhill very quickly, leading to hospital admissions and even death.

What food prep mistakes are people making?

The most important rule of all is to not wash raw chicken. This practice is surprisingly common, yet offers no nutritional or hygiene benefit. Instead, it causes raw chicken juices and bacteria to be sprayed on to surfaces around the kitchen. Even if the meal is then cooked perfectly, the bacteria survives on the kitchen surfaces, and can cause deadly food poisoning through cross contamination.

Food safety made simple

– Wash your hands in warm, soapy water before and after preparing food, especially after handling raw chicken. This simple measure stops campylobacter from spreading to surfaces and kitchen cloths.

– Use different chopping boards and knives for raw chicken and other ready-to-eat ingredients, including veg and salad. If you don’t have different chopping boards and utensils, make sure to clean them in hot, soapy water between raw and cooked food.

– Defrost frozen chicken in a covered container on the bottom shelf of your fridge, not at room temperature on a work surface. Make sure it is fully defrosted before you cook.

– Never wash raw chicken – doing so splashes the harmful bacteria around the kitchen, and the spread covers a much greater area than you can imagine.

– Keep the heat up – chicken must be cooked properly to kill all bacteria in the meat itself. You will know it is cooked when the juices run clear and there is no pink meat. It should be steaming hot in the middle, and read 75˚C in the thickest portion when using a meat thermometer.

Find out more about how to keep you and your loved one safe here.