Want to be more hygienic but always in a hurry? Don’t worry, there are little things that can make a real difference – here are some top tips.
First – why bother?
- Quite simply, however may much you may think you are immune to illness, if you don’t take care about hygiene you might get ill, or cause your family or others to be ill.
- These days many antibiotics are becoming resistant so if you do get an infection, treatment may be difficult
- Illnesses such as Campylobacter can be very serious, could cost you time, money, long-term health or even your life
- You can’t see dangerous germs, so be aware about how to break the chain of infection when it matters
Top tips for hygiene in a hurry
In the kitchen
- Don’t wash chicken or chicken packaging. It is a waste of time, is dangerous and spreads bacteria all over the sink, clean dishes and surrounding areas
- When preparing chicken, try not to touch it – open the pack, remove with a fork, put on a chopping board with the fork, use the fork to hold it when slicing then tip into the pan. The less you spread the bacteria around the safer you are. Disinfect and utensils and wash your hands as they may be contaminated from the package even if you don’t touch the chicken
- Use some anti-bacterial cleanser and a paper towel if your work-surface may be contaminated after preparing raw meat, raw vegetables and poultry. Leave on the surface for a few minutes and wipe off..
- Worried about whether you have cooked something enough? Use a thermometer – quick, easy and no nonsense about worrying if the juices or clear or it is piping hot (very vague)! Aim for 75°C in the centre (for stews, check large pieces of meat not the gravy which heats up quicker).
- Cool rice and pasta quickly by rinsing under the cold tap, then box up and store in the fridge. Rice freezes well, so if like me you like brown rice that takes ages to cook, make some extra, freeze it and reheat either by pouring boiling water over in a pan and quickly bringing to boil, or microwave.
You don’t have to wash your hands all day long at random, but there are key times when it really will help to protect you and others; wash your hands with soap and rub all parts thoroughly to dislodge germs. Key times include:
- After handling raw chicken, meat or vegetables
- After using or cleaning the toilet
- Always before eating with your fingers
- Before rubbing your eyes or putting in contact lenses.
- Seven is a good number! Have seven hand towels, seven kitchen cloths, seven tea towels, change daily and wash all at once at the end of the week on a hot wash above 60°C.
- Use protectors on your pillows and mattress to keep them dust-mite free.
- A weekly linen wash at 60°C or above (I do 90°C) keeps linen hygienic and keeps your washing machine from getting smelly.
- Have a “shoes off” rule when you come in – that way your house gets less dirty and you don’t have to vacuum as much!
Hygiene by design
- Having a new toilet put in? Put the flush button behind the lid – that way everyone has to put the lid down after use! Saves germs flying round the bathroom on the flush and landing on your toothbrush
- Use antibacterial bags for life so you don’t need to worry about washing reusable bags
Dr Lisa Ackerley is working with colleagues on the EU Safeconsume Project whose aim is to reduce the burden from foodborne illness; she was interviewed about her role and what advice she gives about reducing the risks of food poisoning.