How Food Storage Affects Food Hygiene

Food Hygiene has many aspects including production handling cooking and storage. In this article we will look at one of the important ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning  by storing food properly.

This is part 2 see part 1 here

From a food hygiene point of view, different types of food require different types of storage, for example, some types of food have to be stored in the fridge and eaten within a short period; other types of food for example flour, dried beans or peas and tinned food can all be stored at room temperature and For much longer.

However there will still be limits the storage time to dried foods.

Important features in the storage of food

 

The temperature that they are stored at, the place where they are stored, and how long they are going to be stored for are a important factors in the storage of food and food hygiene.

Food Hygiene Certificate - Cans Image

Food Hygiene -Clean can tops before opening


Some foods, especially raw foods can contain microbes, these foods such as raw poultry and raw meat, are the most likely to cause food poisoning if stored incorrectly.

Storing them in the fridge, at lower temperatures, will reduce the chances of these microbes increasing.

These types of food present an extra problem for correct food hygiene, that of cross contamination. In food hygiene terms cross contamination is when harmful bacteria are spread from contaminated food to uncontaminated food.

To prevent this, these high risk foods need to be kept separate from other foods, particularly any which are ready to eat or have been previously cooked, this includes foods like cheese, salad, bread, sandwiches and ready cooked meats as these will be eaten without any further cooking.

When storing raw meat and poultry you must cover them well and keep them on the bottom shelf of the fridge so that they drip blood onto the other foodstuffs and contaminate them.

If you have any pre-prepared cold foods you should store them in the fridge until you are ready to consume them. Any dairy products should also be kept in the fridge as well as eggs, which should be stored in their box.

For correct food hygiene, foods to be stored should each have their own separate container and these should be covered. If you are using dishes to store food, then you should cover them with film or foil. You must not reuse the film or foil for wrapping other things afterwards.

Keep your fridge/freezer operating properly

There are several things that you can do to ensure that your fridge or freezer is in optimum condition to store foods.

Regular defrosting. If the fridge or freezer is iced up, It will not be able to maintain the correct operating temperature

Regular cleaning. The surfaces, both inside and outside should be cleaned regularly. Pay particular attention to the shelves in the fridge and the storage in the door. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately.

Do not overlook the fridge as it will not be able to operate properly and the correct operating temperature may not be reached.

You should regularly check the temperature of your fridge or freezer with a thermometer. Fridge temperatures should remain below 5°C and freezer temperatures should be at less than 18°C.

Other storage points

One of the problems with stored food is pests. These can get into dried foods such as rice, breakfast cereals, beans and flour,  after the packets have been opened. Make sure that all packets of tightly resealed or that the contents have been transferred to proper storage jars after opening. Ensure that all containers and storage jars have lids which fit tightly. Make sure that they are clean and dry. When opening packets of food, make sure that the safety seals are correctly in the place when you first open a jar or packet of food.

Root vegetables may still have traces of soil on them. Be sure to store them separately from other vegetables and fruit, they are best stored in a cool dark place.

Any utensils that you use for eating, drinking and cooking should be stored separately in clean and tidy areas.

Any perishable food that has been removed from the fridge and left out somewhere at room temperature (i.e. not in a chiller) for more than two hours should be disposed of.

How long can food be stored for

The length of time that food can be stored for is not unlimited. Nearly all packaged food has best before and use by dates stamped on them. These tell you how long you can store food for, when it should be used by and usually how to store food after it has been opened.

Use by dates. These are used on the most perishable types of food, food that does not keep as well as other types. After this date it can be dangerous to eat this food. Food which has gone past its use by date should not be used.

Best before date. This is used on those types of food, which generally have a longer period of use. This date is an indication of how long the food will remain at top quality.

While these dates are good guidelines you should always examine food carefully before use. Look out and smell the food before use, if food looks off, smells off, or tastes off, the chances are it’s gone off. Dispose of it rather than risk poisoning someone. If cans are leaking, Rusty or damaged they could be dangerous, do not use the contents.

Some Freezer Food Hygiene Tips

Pre-packaged food will usually have instructions on the label to tell you if it is suitable for freezing. If you are going to freeze food, do it as soon as you can after you buy it, do not let it thaw out first. If you’re going to freeze freshly cooked food, always use a clean freezer bag. Make sure to label the bag with a description and date of freezing. Read the recipe all the manual for the freezer to determine how long the food can be kept for.

Food rotation in the freezer is important. Use the oldest items first, providing they are still in date, this will also help to minimise wastage.

Maintaining proper storage methods is a vital part of food hygiene.

 

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