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
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!
Christmas is coming and the turkey questions keep rolling in! So here are some simple answers and top tips to keep you safe this Christmas. Watch this space – more updates to come!
Q How do I store the raw turkey?
In the fridge – lowest shelf, protected from any foods that are ready to eat.
Q Should I wash raw turkey?
Absolutely not – never!!! If you wash turkey you risk spreading germs all over your kitchen sink, draining board and anything else in the vicinity. Try not to handle it too much either – anywhere it’s been needs disinfecting – use an antibacterial spray such as Dettol. And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly using soap and dry with a paper towel. I wash my hands twice after handling raw meat and poultry just to be on the safe side.
Well summer is here isn’t it? Are we sturdy Brits going to pretend it’s nice and warm this weekend and get out in the garden? But before you do, have a quick think about what may be lurking on the BBQ and patio, chairs and tables and spend a few minutes making sure that it is safe for your family and friends. We are not talking about getting a sterile garden of course – that would be ridiculous, but here are some pointers of where a bit of cleaning at the right time in the right place may just help prevent illness if you are intending to eat outside.
Dr Lisa explains why it is NOT ok to eat a rare burger, or steak tartare.
I wouldn’t recommend eating a rare burger, and would avoid steak tartare like the plague! It’s a sad fact, but we have to assume that raw meat is contaminated on the outside surface, no matter how good quality it is, whether it is free range, organic or whatever breed it is from.
The “bad” bacteria
The sorts of bacteria that can get onto meat are E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens. These will be found mainly on the outside surfaces of meat. But let’s not get too technical!
Are Steaks ok Rare?
These potentially dangerous bacteria can be killed by thorough cooking, which means a temperature of 75°C for a few seconds will do the trick. so if you have a steak, and you sear the outside, you kill the bacteria and it’s usually ok to eat it rare inside (although see my blog on mechanically tenderised / spiked meat).
Can you eat a Rare Burger?
BUT if you take your lump of beef and grind or mince it up to make a burger, you are changing everything! The outside of the meat gets lumped up with the inside, and hey presto, if you don’t cook it ALL the way through (that is to 75 °C in the middle) then you could be getting a dose of E. coli, and you really don’t want that! So I would say never eat a rare burger.
The same applies to steak tartare because that is minced up raw steak, with the added insult of a raw egg on top (raw eggs pose a possible Salmonella risk).
Help! I’m going on Holiday abroad – how do I stay safe?
Dr Lisa Ackerley shares some of her experiences from presenting on the BBC’s Secret Tourist and Holiday Hit Squad
You don’t want to turn into a hotel inspector, but here are a few tips that may make your holiday safer.
Taking a moment or two to check your accommodation before you unpack the suitcase could make a real difference to your stay – and could save your life!
Check out emergency exits from your accommodation as soon as you arrive – this could save your lives. Don’t rely on the plan on the back of the door – I have found that it is often wrong!
Make sure if you have young children that they can’t get onto the balcony unless you are with them. Check that the balcony is safe to use – is it high enough, is it like a climbing frame? Can the children step up to get over it? Is it wobbly? If in any doubt, ask for another, preferably ground floor room.
Check out the electrical sockets – are there any exposed wires or broken sockets?
The swimming pool is normally one of your holiday’s luxuries. Make sure it doesn’t become one of the inconveniences.
If it is murky, don’t go in it – it won’t be clean enough and it could be unsafe if you can’t see a child in difficulty under the water. Complain straight away and take pictures.
Check out the depths – tell your children where the deep end is, and supervise at all times
Check out any trip hazards or slip hazards – I have seen hotels with broken grills round the pool – ideal to fall into a gulley and break your leg whilst falling in to the pool
Avoid the Jacuzzi unless the hotel is really spotless – some even tell you the pool hygiene readings and checks.
You can’t exactly spend your holiday eating bread and bottled water (although that’s what I had to do on some of my trips)! Following some simple advice, you can eat to your heart’s content.
Hot food should be hot, cold food cold.
Watch out for recycled food – food that has been out once and is made into something else – for example, I have seen hot sausages for breakfast and then chopped sausages in salad the next day
If there are flies or birds landing on the food, don’t touch it.
Avoid drinks from large dispensers unless you feel really confident about the cleanliness of the place.
Re-constituted drinks (where water is added to concentrate or powder) means you are drinking the local water – are you confident it is safe? If not then have drinks from sealed bottles – and give the ice a miss for the same reason
Avoid dishes with undercooked eggs in, either breakfast or desserts – Salmonella is not so well controlled in many countries as it is in the UK