Following Food Safety Week we’re helping spread the message about how to cut the chance of getting food poisoning. By following a few simple tips, you can make sure the food you prepare is always safe to eat.

Foodborne illnesses aren’t pleasant for anyone. But they pose a bigger risk in later life, as our immune systems weaken with age meaning it can take longer to recover. To reduce your chances of getting ill, you should always follow these simple tips:

1. Keep raw meat separate from other food

Whether in your shopping basket or fridge, you should try and keep raw meat separate from food that won’t be cooked. Cover raw meat and store it at the bottom of the fridge so that meat juices can’t drip onto any other foods.

2. Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them

Most fruits and vegetables go on quite a journey before they reach your kitchen, so it’s always best to run them under the tap before you eat them, to clean away any dirt or germs.

3. Don’t wash raw chicken and other meats

Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria on raw meat, so there’s no need to wash it beforehand. In fact, washing raw meat can spread bacteria around the kitchen, by splashing juices onto hands, clothes and surfaces.

4. Wash your hands and utensils after preparing raw meat

You should always wash all utensils and chopping boards used to prepare raw meat thoroughly. To put your mind at rest, you might also want to consider keeping a specific chopping board aside for preparing meat, and another for non-cooked foods such as bread and raw fruit and vegetables. You should wash your hands in warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds after handling raw meat.

5. Check meat is properly cooked

Food should be heated to a minimum of 75ºC to kill off any bacteria. If pork and chicken are properly cooked, the meat should not be pink and the juices should run clear. For extra peace of mind, you could use a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached this temperature inside and out.

Using your microwave safely

One of the best things about our home delivered ready meals is that we’ve done all the hard work for you. There are no ingredients to handle or chopping boards or utensils to wash up – all you have to do is heat up your chosen dish in the oven or microwave, and enjoy. We also carry out rigorous testing on our meals, so you’ll know that what you’re about to eat is safe. However, if you’re using the microwave to heat your meal, there are still a few tips you should follow to make sure your food is properly cooked through:

1. Cook your meals in microwave-safe containers

All our microwaveable meals can be cooked in the packaging they came in. Simply remove the cardboard sleeve and pierce or remove the plastic film according to the instructions on the sleeve. Never put anything metal in the microwave.

2.  Heat your meals for the right amount of time

Microwaves come in different categories according to how powerful they are and take different amounts of time to cook certain ready  meals. So always remember to check the cooking instructions to find the right cooking time.

3. After cooking, leave your meal to stand for one minute before serving

Most cooking instructions recommend this because the meal will continue to cook for a minute after you finish heating it up in the microwave. It will also give time for any steam trapped under the plastic film to dissipate, making your ready meal safer and easier to open.

You’ll find more advice on cooking our meals here. You can also download large print cooking instructions for our meals if you need them.

Food Safety Week – Acting on Campylobacter Together

Each year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) takes a new focus for food safety week. This year, they’re raising awareness of campylobacter, a type of bacteria that can be found on raw chicken that’s behind the majority of food poisoning cases in the UK. By promoting simple food safety tips such as the ones above, they’re asking people to help make food safe for them and their families, and reduce the number of food poisoning cases.