“Disaster Chef” shows how to avoid food poisoning
A lively piece of street theatre will take place in Bath this Saturday as part of Bath & North East Somerset Council's efforts to help prevent people getting food poisoning.
"Disaster Chef" will be staged in the Southgate shopping centre from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 24 March to highlight food safety risks in the home and remind people how to avoid them.
Members of the public will be invited to take part in a quiz, test their hand washing methods and watch the specially commissioned street performance – all aimed at reinforcing the essential rules of food hygiene; hand washing, avoiding cross-contamination, thorough cooking and safe storage of food. Quiz prizes will include Bath Spa vouchers and book tokens for younger entrants.
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Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield) Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "Most people who suffer with food poisoning immediately think it's down to the last takeaway or meal out they had, but in truth a very high proportion of cases can be due to things going wrong at home.
"Bath & North East Somerset Council's goal for this event is to give people the information they need to safely store, prepare, cook and enjoy food – thereby cutting cases of food poisoning in the home. If we follow this simple guidance we can eliminate the risks to ourselves, our families and our friends.
"Proper cooking will kill harmful bacteria. It is especially important to make sure poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. If there's any pink meat or the juices have any pink or red in them, bacteria could be lurking so check that food is steaming hot all the way through before serving.
"Avoid cross-contamination to prevent bacteria spreading between foods and from contaminated surfaces or utensils. Cover raw meat before storage and store at the bottom of the fridge, below and away from ready-to-eat food. Never use the same chopping board for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, salad or vegetables, unless the board and knife have been thoroughly washed in between."
Each year there are around 70,000 notified cases of food poisoning in England and Wales. There have been 375 reported cases of infectious diseases in Bath and North East Somerset since April 2011 – the majority of which were caused by food poisoning or food poisoning bugs.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is offering the following tips for cooking and avoiding cross-contamination to reduce the risk of food poisoning:
- Always follow the use-by date guidance on foods.
- Food that needs to be chilled should be kept in a fridge at a temperature of between 0 C and 5 C.
- Home freezers should be kept at a temperature of -18 C or lower.
- Store cooked and raw meat products separately in the fridge with cooked meats on a higher shelf than uncooked meats.
- Ensure that meat and poultry are thoroughly defrosted before cooking.
- Consume food within four hours of removing it from the fridge.
- Keep raw meat and poultry well away from ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, salad and vegetables.
- Use separate knives and chopping boards for preparing raw and cooked products.
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food and before eating. If at the beach or in the countryside, use hand wipes.
- Do not butter or eat bread or pick at salads after handling raw meat, unless you have washed your hands thoroughly.
- Ensure that raw meat and poultry, including bacon and sausages, are properly cooked.
- Barbecues should be lit long enough before use to ensure that the grill is hot enough to cook the food through. It is a good idea to cook meat in an oven first and finish it off on the barbecue.
The "Disaster Chef" event is part of Safe at Home Week, which runs from 22-29 March and is supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council, NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Avon Fire & Rescue Service and Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
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