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August 4, 2016

Bacteria battle: 10 tips on keeping food safe in warm weather

Following Britain’s recent spate of scorching weather, we thought we’d provide you with some top tips on how to store food as safely as possible in the summer months. So have a read, top up your knowledge and continue to soak up those rays and barbeque those sausages in confidence.

The Food Standards Agency estimates that approximately 200,000 cases of foodborne disease each year in England and Wales originate from norovirus alone. The rate of illness typically increases in the warmer months too, with a number of factors playing a part.

The ideal condition for bacteria to thrive is warm weather. We all know that excitement takes over when we get a bit of sun (a very sporadic occurrence for us of course!), but as the atmosphere ‘hots up’, it’s particularly important that you keep foods at their ideal temperature.

As food heats up, bacteria multiply rapidly – and some foods are perfect for bacterial duplication due to their high moisture and high protein content. Common culprits include ready-to-eat foods, cooked foods, smoked meat or fish and certain dairy products. Storing these foods at the correct temperatures (indoors and outdoors) is crucial to reducing risk, specifically keeping foods out of the “Danger Zone”. Foods which fall into this temperature range (8°C and 63°C) are most at risk of bacteria growth, in turn increasing the chances of contracting food poisoning. Below is an extract from the “Critical Control Temperatures” thermometer,  highlighting this range in relation to other temperatures.

danger zone

With these things in mind, here’s some top Shieldyourself tips to keep your food safe:

  • Leave chilled food in the fridge for as long as possible before exposing it to the outdoors – the hot temperatures can promote bacteria growth
  • Make sure you consume hot foods straight away
  • Keep cold food cold – store it in a cooler with ice or gel packs if not refrigerated. Cold food should be ideally stored at 5°C or below
  • Protect food from contamination by insects, birds, animals and people by keeping it covered whenever possible
  • Don’t cross-contaminate – ensure you keep raw foods separated and away from ready-to-eat foods, such as prepared fruits and washed salads
  • Thaw and marinate meat in the fridge, not at room temperature
  • Wash all salads, fruit and vegetables thoroughly prior to preparation or consumption
  • Make sure foods are fully cooled down before putting them in the fridge
  • Cool down leftovers as quickly as possible – preferably not longer than 90 minutes. Always consume within 2 days
  • Never put open cans back in the fridge. Metal oxidises and breaks down which leads to it being transferred to the food inside. You should always place the contents in an alternative container, preferably covered

Bacteria is the silent assassin – you can rarely see it and it can strike quickly without remorse. Staying ahead with good food safety practice is key to avoiding the threat, no matter how long (or let’s face it, short) our summer ends up being.

Here at Shieldyourself we have a few ways to help you stay safe in serving food during the summer months. We can produce tailored Food Safety Management Systems with specific safe methods, provide advice through our unique Helpline Service and have experienced Environmental Health Practitioners as your dedicated Account Manager. For more information about how we can help keep your business and customers safe, visit our homepage or call us today on 020 3740 3744.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email sales@shieldsafety.co.uk.