That’s a lot of food and a lot of preparation for most people but with all the busyness of Christmas, it can be easy to forget about those vital kitchen/food hygiene rules. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions to do with food hygiene, which is probably why it gets overlooked a lot or people assume that their kitchen tools and surfaces are clean when they’ve just been ‘wiped down’. But in actual fact, bacteria and germs linger around for a lot longer than you may think - Yes! - Even when you’ve just ‘wiped down’!
Here, we bring you some of the most common myths:
Myth 1 - “Once I’ve washed and drained my cloth, I know it’s clean because…Well, I’ve just washed it!”
Fact - Just because it looks clean, doesn’t mean it’s actually clean, in fact, dishcloths that are used for more than 2 days have extremely high levels of bacteria present. Food poisoning bacteria can survive and grow on dishcloths especially when there are still residues of food present and the cloth is still damp.
What should you do? - First things first, if your cloth starts to smell or stain badly - chuck it and secondly, it’s best to change them every other week to prevent any harmful bacteria from building up in the cloth.
Myth 2 - “I’ve just washed my chopping board and it’s looking clean enough to start chopping up some meat and vegetables!”
Fact - Well actually, we can’t see bacteria or germs with the naked eye so you can never be 100% certain. But bacteria like E.Coli can last for up to 24 hours on the surface of chopping boards and we’re assuming that food poisoning wasn’t on the menu for your family/guests?
What should you do? - It is really important to get in the habit of cleaning your chopping board with hot soapy water in between preparation of all foods and especially with raw meats, poultry and raw vegetables. This will not only reduce the spread of bacteria and cross contamination, it will also guarantee you to have a safer and tastier meal!
Myth 3 - “I wash my hands before I set to prepare any food, so I won’t spread any germs!”
Fact - Although it is always important that you wash your hands before touching any type of food and we’d like to think everybody does this religiously, there are many that don’t wash their hands thoroughly (Yes, there are specific ways of really washing your hands). Think about where your hands have been and what they have and will touch…
What should you do? - If you’re planning on preparing several different types of food (raw or cooked), it is vital that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after with warm soapy water. Rubbing your hands together to create a lather to cover the back and front of the hands, wrists, between your fingers and nails will really get the soap to dislodge dirt and germs. Then dry hands thoroughly with a hand towel and never with a tea towel.
Myth 4 - “I don’t need to wash my utensils while I’m preparing my food.”
Fact - Like chopping boards, they touch different types of food all the time and need to be thoroughly washed in between each type (raw and cooked) to minimise cross-contamination. A quick run ‘under the tap’ of the knives won’t suffice if you plan on using various food types (as well as not wanting illness issues the next day!).
What should you do? - All types of utensils should be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water after using them with raw meats and poultry. This will prevent any bacteria from spreading and lessen the chances of food poisoning.
So there you have it, some of the most common myths to do with kitchen/food hygiene and if you follow each practise correctly, you’re guaranteed to have a safe (and delicious!) Christmas dinner this year.
Image credit to: 'Arlington County' http://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonva/