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Kitchen & Food hygiene: The biggest mistakes we make

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Unless you want your household to come down with a case of D&V, food and kitchen hygiene should be important to you.  But, do you really know all there is to know about keeping you and your family safe from germs and bacteria?

According to the Royal Society of Public Health, here are the biggest mistakes that we are making when cooking and preparing food in our kitchen.

Washing raw chicken

DO NOT DO THIS EVER! Raw chicken carries the harmful campylobacter bacteria, which can cause severe abdominal cramps, accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. When you wash raw chicken in the sink, the bacteria are picked up in the water which is then sprayed onto other surfaces in your kitchen, which can lead to food contamination. 

Defrosting food at room temperature

Sometimes we want our food to thaw quickly, but when food is left at room temperature harmful bacteria starts to multiply, which can give you a bad case of food poisoning. 

The best way to defrost your food is in the fridge.  If you plan your meals for the days ahead you’ll be able to take items out of the freezer in plenty of time.  Remember frozen meat will take around 2 days to defrost fully in the fridge. 

You can use a microwave to defrost food, but be careful to defrost it for the recommended time, otherwise it may start to cook.   

Eating food that looks and smells OK

We are always being told that as a nation we throw away too much food that could otherwise be consumed, because we rely too heavily on the use-by dates.  However, we need to make sure that we are using our judgement wisely when eating out-of-date food.  So, what do these different dates mean?

Best before dates: You’ll usually see these on items such as frozen and tinned food, and it relates to the quality of the food and not the safety of it.  For example, you can go ahead and eat those tinned peaches past their best before date (if you have stored them correctly), but they may not taste their best.

Use-by dates:  These dates are mainly used for food items that go off quickly, such as meat and some dairy products. Some food may look and smell OK once the use-by date has gone, but may in fact have harmful bacteria in it that could lead to an upset tummy or worse case, diarrhea and vomiting.

Storing meat on the wrong shelf 

Many people think that it’s fine to store raw meat on any shelf. But, even if the meat is wrapped up in cellophane it still has the tendency to drip juices. 

So, when storing meat in your fridge or defrosting it, make sure that you place it on the bottom shelf to stop any potential juices dripping onto food below.

Keeping pets in the kitchen

We know that you want to spend as much time with your pet as possible, but keeping your pooch in the kitchen may mean that you are risking germs and bacteria spreading onto worktops and other surfaces where you prepare food.

If possible, it’s best to keep your pet out of your kitchen altogether, but especially when you are preparing food.

Re-using cloths

Did you know that a warm dish cloth or sponge can make a lovely home for bacteria such as E Coli? So, for this reason they should be replaced frequently and rinsed out thoroughly after each use.  If you want to keep your cleaning cloths, then it’s recommended that you wash them at a high temperature to nuke any bacteria living in them.

Using the same chopping board

This is a big no no!  You should always use a separate chopping board when preparing different food items.  A colour-coded set of chopping boards is a good idea so you know which board can be used for which food type. They can be purchased easily from most shops or on-line. We like the these made by Joseph


  • Always follow the labels on how to store your food.
  • Put raw meat on the bottom shelf of your fridge to stop meat juices dripping onto other food items
  • Replace your dish cloths regularly and rinse them out after each use
  • Use separate chopping boards when preparing food
  • Keep your furry friend out of the kitchen, especially when you are making food.