Eat safe this summer

We all love it when the weather gets warmer. But did you know that you might need to think harder about food safety in the summer months?

New research indicates that people in South West England could be putting themselves and their families at risk of food poisoning through lack of knowledge of the 4Cs of food hygiene: Chilling, Cooking, Cleaning and avoiding Cross-contamination.

The Food Standards Agency's Food and You Survey, which collects information on food safety through 3,118 interviews across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found that in South West England:

  • 46% of respondents said they did not know what the fridge temperature should be, suggesting that many people's fridges may not be between the recommended 0 and 5°C.
  • 49% thought the correct method for defrosting meat or fish was leaving it at room temperature, putting themselves at higher risk of food poisoning as germs multiply more quickly at room temperature.
  • A fifth (22%) said that they don't use different chopping boards for different foods, which increases the risk of cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • The South West was the region where people were least likely to wash raw chicken (61% never do this). Washing chicken risks spreading bacteria and should be avoided.
  • 66% of respondents were more likely than those in other regions to eat red meat with pink or red juices.

Councillor Val Keitch, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Health at South Somerset District Council said, "These figures show that there's more that people in South West England could do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe this summer. That's why South Somerset District Council is working with the Food Standards Agency promoting good hygiene practices during Food Safety Week (19 - 25 June).  This year the week aims to encourage better hygiene practices for summer, when the risk of getting food poisoning goes up"

For tips on how to stay safe this summer visit: https://www.food.gov.uk/safe-summer-food.

Key Messages to help people keep safe this summer:

Chilling/defrosting

  • Storing your food properly chilled is one of the best ways to ensure it will be safe to eat.
  • Make sure your fridge is set to the right temperature - the coldest part should be below 5C.
  • Cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature so that they can be stored in the fridge within 1-2 hours.
  • Store raw foods separately from cooked foods, covered on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
  • Do not defrost raw meat or raw meat products at room temperature (as this will increase your chance of getting food poisoning). Ideally food should be defrosted fully in the fridge or if this is not possible, using a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking.

Cooking

  • Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.
  • Check that food is steaming hot throughout before you eat it, especially meats like poultry, pork and minced products, which need to be cooked thoroughly before eating.
  • Burgers prepared at home should always be cooked all the way through until steaming hot. They should not be served rare or pink because harmful bacteria may be present in the middle of the burger, causing food poisoning.