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Preparing your food for the new year ahead

Keeping healthy

31 August 2023

A person chopping vegetables on a green chopping board

Many students across the country will be preparing for the new term or heading off to university for the first time. Being away at university may mean cooking for yourself more and sharing a kitchen with other students.

To help avoid unwanted illness and ensure food is prepared safely, our health protection experts have shared some top tips and advice:

  • Understanding use-by and best before dates:
    • A use-by date is about safety and you cannot eat food after an expired use-by date because the food is not safe to eat.
    • A best before date is about quality and you can eat the food after a best before date has expired but it may have a reduced quality (taste or texture).
  • Sharing a fridge
    • Avoid ready-to-eat food being cross-contaminated by raw meat and fish on the same shelf, by not storing opened packets of meat, fish or shellfish. Instead put the food in separate containers. Use sealed or waterproof containers to avoid leakages and limit the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Cooking food properly
    • Check cooking instructions on food packaging
    • Make sure food is piping hot
    • Check there is no pink meat
  • Handwashing can prevent harmful bacteria being spread around the kitchen
    • You should wash your hands:
      • before preparing food and particularly before handling cooked or ready to eat food
      • before eating and after preparing raw foods, or handling its packaging
      • after handling waste
      • after cleaning surfaces
      • after sneezing, touching pets or going to the toilet
  • Making the most of your food
    • Reusing leftovers can save money. Cool foods quickly and store in the fridge or freezer within 1 or 2 hours. Leftovers in a fridge should be eaten within 48hours
    • Freezing foods close to their use-by date acts a pause button as most bacteria will not grow. You can freeze leftover foods for another day (as above)
  • Keeping the kitchen clean
    • Avoid cross contamination by cleaning surfaces, utensils and dishes between uses especially when preparing raw meat and fish
    • Clean using hot soapy water or disinfectant cleaners (following the label instructions)
    • Clean surfaces and handles regularly and take out the rubbish
  • Enjoy a Takeaway
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