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March 29, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Health & safety in the kitchen

The Lyons Share

Rather than recipes, today I’m going to talk about health and safety in the kitchen.

Food hygiene:

  • Roll your sleeves up when cooking.
  • Wash hands before preparing food, and always wash hands, equipment and utensils (such as chopping boards and knives) when switching between food types, particularly between uncooked and cooked food, and especially after handling meat.

Food safety:

  • Keep knives sharp. Blunt knives have to be forced to try to cut anything, and in doing so there is a danger of slips.
  • When you lay a knife down, lay it with the blade pointed towards the chopping board/wall/anywhere other than facing outwards where someone could cut themselves on it.
  • When using pots on an element, be aware of where the handles are. When extended over the floor they can catch on clothing and spill, while over adjacent elements they will heat up.
  • When lifting the lid of a pot of boiling water, lift the far side first to prevent the steam scalding your hand.

Food storage:

  • Make sure your fridge is set at 5oC or below.
  • When you want to refrigerate a hot dish, leave it to cool down first. If you want it cooled quickly, stand it in a bowl of cold water (with ice for faster cooling).
  • Try to refrigerate cooked food within two hours.
  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning grow best when food is warm, so keep perishables refrigerated, especially meat and egg-based foods (such as mayonnaise).
  • Many food safety posters and et cetera advise placing cooked food above raw food in the fridge. While this is ideal, if you ensure all food is kept secure in a sealed air-tight container you should be alright.


  • Kitchen fires are started when fat or oil heats up too much. To extinguish a fat fire, cover it with a lid or a damp cloth and turn off the stove/cooking device. Do NOT try to use water; this will just spread the flame everywhere!
  • If you spill something on the floor ensure it is cleaned and completely dried.
  • Wrap broken glass in newspaper before putting it in the bin. Sweep up all the pieces, preferably with a brush and shovel. Dampen a bunch of paper towels, and wipe down the area where the glass broke; this picks up all the little pieces that the brush may have missed.

Food tip of the week:
Ants in your pants? A clove of garlic in each cupboard will keep away ants. Incidentally, garlic is also great for colds. So it does more than ward off vampires! (If you make a Twilight comment I will beat you with a wooden stake.)


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