Cooking for the family: the 5 ‘C’s

Following these five steps will ensure the food you prepare is always safe for you and your loved ones
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Check: Check the use by date on perishable foods and do not consume foods that is expired. Ensure that the food you consume is free from any spoilage such as fruit, vegetables and meat. Check that food packages are properly sealed and intact. Do not consume foodstuffs that appears already opened or dented.

Chill: Keep all perishable foods chilled at or below 5°C. Food should not be left at room temperature for a long time, as it encourages pathogens to multiply. Cooked food is to be chilled as soon as possible at a temperature of less than 5°C. Ensure that the food which is kept in the refrigerator is protected from risk of contamination and high-risk food is covered. The cold chain should never be interrupted. 

Clean: Cleaning involves the elimination of visible grime to reduce germs to a safe level. All food contact surfaces including work surfaces, chopping boards, utensils and hands, must be thoroughly washed and sanitised before and after food preparation with food grade chemicals and water. It is also important to regularly disinfect food cloths, sponges and scrubbers.

Cook: Food should be cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria. Make sure raw foods are adequately cooked to the correct core temperature (above 75°C) for the correct duration of time. Keep food above the temperature of 63°C between cooking and serving. Cooked food should never be re-heated more than once.

Cross-contamination: This occurs when bacteria and other pathogens are transferred to equipment or ready to eat food via hands, raw food or contaminated surfaces such as utensils and chopping boards. Raw food is always to be separated from cooked food. Use colour coded chopping boards for raw meat, fish, vegetables etc. Cutlery and tongs are to be used adequately from their grip. Avoid touching food with hands as much as possible so that pathogens are not transferred from the hands onto the food.

This article has been prepared by environmental health officers from the Environmental Health Directorate in collaboration with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate both within the Superintendence of Public Health as part of the World Food Safety Day Celebrations. This is organised annually by the World Health Organisation on June 7 and this year the topic is Food standards save lives’.  For more information, visit  www.who.int/campaigns/world-food-safety-day/2023.

Read also this article about cooking in summer. For more health-related pieces, click here. For more Child stories, follow this link.

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