With the 5p bag tax, bags for life are becoming a norm, and it’s great news for the environment. But one problem is that we could be putting our food into dirty bags, not just visibly dirty, but bags with dangerous bacteria on the inside.Read more
I guess the first thing about reducing food waste is not to buy so much – plan ahead, see what you already have and don’t shop when hungry. Using a list can help, and on-line shopping can be a godsend for many reasons, but one is that you can check your cupboards as you shop. However, with all the will in the world, you may be faced with a load of food in the fridge that is making you feel guilty! Here are some simple tips to save waste.
Is it Safe to Eat Food Past its Best-Before or Use-by Date?
Recently there has been quite a bit in the news about whether it is safe to eat food that has gone past its best-before or use-by date, and even more worrying, food being retrieved from skips and bins to eat. So what are the risks and more importantly, what can you do to save money with food without putting yourself or your family at risk?
Campylobacter is still at large – so be prepared in BBQ season
Summer is here (well in theory) and the BBQs come out, but in the light of the recent findings that Campylobacter is still likely to be present in over 70% of raw chicken, what can we do to ensure that we are not serving up a dose of food poisoning to friends and family?
First of all, let’s think about how you can infect someone – bear in mind that Campylobacter is infectious in very small doses:
If you contaminate your hands with raw chicken, and then make up a wrap with cooked chicken, you could be passing the organism on in the ready-to-eat food. Your friends may not realise it was you that did it – they may not be ill for a couple of days, and it is possible that one slip up only affected one person, so no-one would associate the BBQ with their illness.
By putting raw chicken on a platter, cooking it and then putting it back on the original platter – you have caused classic cross-contamination – everyone could be ill!
When chicken isn’t cooked all the way through – for example cooked too much on the outside and underdone in the middle – this is a recipe for disaster as bacteria could survive!
Using the same utensils to put the raw chicken on the BBQ as to taking the cooked chicken off could give you more cross-contamination.
The 5 Second Rule: should you eat food if it drops on the floor?
Recent research by has hit the press this week, reported as concluding that bacteria may not transfer quickly to some foods when dropped on the floor, and therefore the 5 second rule may apply. I carried out an experiment and put some special powder on the floor to simulate bacteria, and then dropped some bread on the floor and picked it up immediately. The bread looked fine in daylight (see the left of the image), but under the UV light showed up all the powder that had transferred (right of image) – showing what can be picked up if you drop food on the floor!
Everyone does it – that smart phone goes everywhere, even the loo!
But what are the risks?
If you take your phone to the toilet then you risk getting it covered in germs (or dropping it down the loo)! However, for many people this may be the one time they can have a sneaky look at their messages when at work, and I doubt people will take much notice about not taking it to the loo.
Shigella, also called dysentery is transmitted via poor hygiene conditions and practices and is often associated with travel abroad. But this week it’s in the news because of infections in the UK. Found in the poo of infected humans, you can get shigella when infected poo gets into the wrong places. By understanding how you can get sick from shigella, and following some simple rules, you can help protect yourself and your family.Read more
Traditionally many foods have been preserved without being stored in the fridge because they contain high quantities of salt or sugar which are used as preservatives. However, as we are being told we need to eat less salt for our heart’s health, and less sugar to reduce obesity, manufacturers are being urged by government departments to reduce sugar and salt in items we buy regularly. Read more
I know I shouldn’t eat at my desk, what with Psychologists, Nutritionists and other health professionals telling us it’s bad. We should get out and have a walk, clear our minds, get some exercise, but are there any other things to think about?
I have carried out a number of surveys over the years where we have swabbed desks, keyboards and (computer) mice to find unsavoury levels of bacteria on surfaces. Of course, the things to watch out for are pathogens, such as E.coli O157, norovirus and cold and flu viruses, which can collect on surfaces if people carrying the organisms don’t wash their hands.
The Journey to the Centre of the Toilet!
Imagine the journey of pathogens from hands that have not been washed after using the toilet. They go to your desk via the kitchen, fridge, kettle, cup cupboard, coffee and sugar containers, milk bottle, stair rail and finally arrive at your ‘lunch table’.
The 2ndHealth Protection Agency Infectious Intestinal Diseases Report estimates that 16% of us carry norovirus (many of us would not have had any symptoms so wouldn’t know). If we don’t wash our hands after using the toilet, then this can be carried to other places, including the office desk if we are hot-desking.
So what can we do to help prevent the spread of disease and make the office a nicer place (even if we don’t eat at our desks)?
Clean your desk using an anti-bacterial or anti-viral product if you are hot-desking and particularly if you have a cold
Dispose of tissues after use – don’t leave them on the desk!
Use anti-viral hand gel
If you have to eat at your desk – wash your hands before you eat if you desk-share, move the keyboard away to remove crumbs – and clean up afterwards!
If you use the office fridge, remove any out of date food (before it walks out on its own)!
How Clean is your Desk?
A little test – tip your keyboard upside down and tap lightly – what comes out? Of course you can’t see the germs, but this may give you an idea of dirt levels. If you want to test the cleanliness more scientifically, contact me and we can arrange for some swabbing!
One issue that we have found that can arise from desk lunching in offices is that if people spill crumbs and keep food in their desks, it can encourage mice and coackroaches – be warned!
As for whether it is healthy, apart from the germ issue, many people use their work computer to do on-line shopping or follow social media in their lunch break, so whilst not actually moving around, at least they are getting a break from work!
If your office is on an industrial estate with a busy road next door, it can’t be very tempting to get outside and have a walk.
If possible, I am sure it is healthier to get out for a while for a break, but my guess is that after the brisk walk we should encourage, workers will still be going back to their desks for a cup of tea and their sandwich!
However, I will leave that to the psychologists to mull over.