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Food Safety : Overview

What is Food Safety?

Food can become unsafe when it's 
contaminated with illness-causing bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals. Symptoms range from mild to severe, but commonly include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, weakness, fever and chills. In severe cases, foodborne illness can lead to hospitalization or even death.

Food can become contaminated at any stage of production, processing, distribution, storage or preparation. For example, germs can spread to food from unclean surfaces, utensils or equipment are used whether during food production or reception 
in our own kitchen. If chilled raw foods like meat or dairy products are left at temperature for too long, for instance during transport to or from the supermarket, bacteria can grow faster than expected and pose a safety risk.

Do we take safe food for granted?

People now spend quite 
five hours every week consuming food-related media on television, in books and online. Despite this, food safety is often overlooked. For example, television cooking shows rarely show celebrity chefs following basic safe food handling rules, like handwashing (although they may of course be doing it off-camera!). Added to the present , recent food trends have focused round the perceived superiority and healthfulness of unprocessed or ‘natural’ foods. While fresh foods undoubtedly have a major role to play in a healthy diet, these trends may lead to a tendency to underestimate the benefits that processing techniques like canning, pasteurization or freezing can provide in terms of safety and shelf-life. For example, tinned vegetables stay safe to eat for years, and are a convenient and affordable thanks to add vegetables to your diet.

What about packaging?

Food packaging plays a crucial 
role as a physical barrier to guard food from damage, contamination and tampering during transport and storage. Many foods also need protection from moisture, air or light to stay them fresh and safe to eat for extended , and even simple packaging materials like glass, plastics and paper can do tons to enhance safety and extend shelf-life.

Cut waste, without taking risks

Globally, we waste around 1/3 of all food produced. The good news is that more and more people and businesses are becoming aware of the problem and taking steps to reduce waste. A great place to start is to pay attention to date labels:


Ø     Use-by dates are usually found on perishable foods such as meat, dairy, and ready-meals and tell us until when we can safely eat the food. After this date, it may not be safe. Check what’s in your fridge regularly and spend foods nearing their use-by date, or freeze them for later.

Ø     Best before dates are more flexible. Foods like dried beans, lentils, and pasta are still safe to eat after this date, but you'll notice changes in flavour, colour or texture. Trust your senses!

Take control!

Many people get sick from their food reception 
, and bacteria (such as Campylobacter and Salmonella) and viruses (such as norovirus) are common causes. Sticking to some basic safe food handling tips can help us avoid getting sick.

Keep clean

Microbes spread to food through physical contact, for instance 
from your hands or cooking utensils. Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before handling food, and repeat often while cooking. Prepare and chop food on a clean surface and clean all utensils and surfaces thoroughly after use with predicament and detergent, or within the dishwasher. Wash dishcloths, tea towels, and aprons frequently at high temperatures.

Separate raw and cooked

Raw foods like meat, fish and poultry are presumably 
to contain illness-causing microbes. These can be transferred to ready-to-eat foods by cross-contamination directly (for example if raw meat touches cooked foods) or indirectly (for example chopping salad vegetables with a knife that was used to chop raw meat). To avoid cross-contamination, try dedicating different coloured chopping boards to fruit/vegetables, fish, meat/poultry and cooked foods, so you usually know which to use. Use separate re-usable shopping bags for raw and ready-to-eat foods and label them so you remember which is which!

Cook thoroughly

Cooking/heating foods to temperatures until piping hot throughout will kill most illness-causing microbes. The most reliable way to check the temperature is to use a cooking thermometer - check that your food has reached a core temperature of least 72°C for 2 minutes.


Ø     Whole cuts of beef or lamb can be eaten rare or pink as they are unlikely to have harmful bacteria in the centre. The outer surface should be seared.

Ø     For pork and poultry, there should be no pink meat left. If you don’t have a thermometer, pierce the thickest part with a fork or skewer; the juices should run clear, not pink.

Ø     Ground meat/fish products like burgers, sausages or fishcakes should be cooked thoroughly all the way through.

Ø     Reheat leftovers thoroughly all the way through. Bring soups and stews to the boil for at least 2 minutes.


Store at safe temperature

Not all foods need to be refrigerated. Clean, dry and funky 
shelves are the simplest place to store bread, dry food (in sealed bags or containers), unopened tins and jars. Foods like milk, meat, fish, poultry, and also our own leftovers should be kept in the fridge, to slow down the growth of harmful microbes.


Notice: Please consult your doctor before following any instruction of

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