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Lack of food hygiene skills putting people at risk

People are putting themselves at risk of food poisoning through lack of knowledge of food hygiene, according to research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). A recent survey  to mark the start of Food Safety Week, revealed many people were not familiar with the four “c’s” of food hygiene – chilling, cooking, cleaning and avoiding cross-contamination.

In the Yorkshire and Humber region, 32 per cent of people surveyed said they never changed their chopping boards between different types of food – increasing the risk of cross-contamination. And one in seven people who were spoken to admitted to not washing their hands before starting to cook or prepare food.

More than a third of people said they sometimes washed raw chicken, which also poses a risk of cross contamination as washing chickens spreads bacteria.

Over half of the people surveyed did not know that a fridge should be kept between zero degrees Celsius and five degrees Celsius but a third said they did defrost meat or fish in the microwave or fridge, in line with FSA guidelines.

Andrew Buxton, food services manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The figures released by the FSA are quite alarming as it shows people are continuing to put themselves at risk of food poisoning through cross-contamination.

“It is so important to change chopping boards and knives when preparing raw meats and foods such as ready-to-eat foods as any bacteria from the raw foods will easily transfer.

“In the summer when temperatures start to rise, people do need to ensure their food hygiene is good as bacteria will multiply quickly when it is hot and spread more easily, increasing the risk of food poisoning and spoilage. It’s important to keep perishable foods refrigerated, put the fridge on a higher setting and not to overstock it.

“A top tip if you need to defrost foods is to do this in the fridge as this is safer and it will actually help the fridge compartment keep cool.”