Experts warn over hygiene in the kitchen

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People living in Daventry District are being urged to think more about home cooking hygiene during national Food Safety Week.

It follows the release of new survey findings which indicate that people in the county are putting their health at risk when cooking at home.

81 per cent of those asked in the East Midlands admitted to one or more habits that put them at risk of food poisoning, including 30 per cent admitting they would eat food that has been dropped on the floor and 21 per cent not washing their hands properly before preparing food.

These kitchen horrors have been exposed at the start of Food Safety Week, which runs until Sunday.

During the week, the Food Standards Agency wants to get people in the East Midlands thinking about food hygiene at home, by completing the new Kitchen Check.

The Kitchen Check gets people to look at their own food preparation practices and will give them a score and some tips based on their answers.

Daventry District Council’s (DDC) Health Improvement Team is supporting the Kitchen Check – which is available at food.gov.uk/kitchen-check – and throughout the week the team will also be emailing businesses district-wide with daily food safety advice and updates. To subscribe to the updates, please contact healthimprovement@daventrydc.gov.uk.

DDCs housing and health portfolio holder Cllr Richard Atterbury, said: “Home cooking shouldn’t be a health hazard, yet not everyone is aware of the risky habits that could cause food poisoning.

“Food Safety Week is the ideal platform to promote good hygiene in the kitchen and we would encourage our residents to visit the Food Standards Agency’s Kitchen Check and find out more.”

The Food Standards Agency survey also reveals that 38 per cent people in the East Midlands don’t check use by dates, with 84 pe cent of them wrongly using the sniff test and 65 per cent just checking the colour – even though this will not always reveal whether food is safe to eat.

Unlike best before dates, use by dates relate to safety and are based on scientific testing, yet 43 per cent of those questioned said they would eat food after its use by date – the most frequent food safety gamble admitted. While admitting these risky kitchen habits, more than 87 per cent said they are confident they get things right with food hygiene all or most of the time and 93 per cent believe they’ve never given family or friends food poisoning. If they do fall ill themselves, only six per cent of people in the East Midlands consider whether the cleanliness of their own kitchen is the cause.

However, the survey also showed some encouraging examples – 98 per cent said they wash chopping boards in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat food and almost 80 per cent stick to the recommended 48 hours for keeping leftovers in the fridge.

Bob Martin, food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: “By not washing their hands before preparing food at home, or ignoring use by dates, people in the East Midlands could be setting themselves and their friends or family up for a bout of really unpleasant illness.

“It’s encouraging though to see that the majority of people are concerned about food safety. We’ve created the Kitchen Check to help people to think about why they do in their own homes and make it easier for people to be knowledgeable and confident about storing and preparing food.”

For more information on safe eating in the home and to take the Kitchen Check visit www.food.gov.uk/kitchen-check.