Food Safety Tips for Young People Leaving Home

As students start preparing to go to university for the first time, it's important that they learn the basics about food safety to protect themselves.
January 4, 2013

As students around the country start preparing to leave home in a few months and go to university for the first time, it's important that they learn the basics about food safety to protect themselves from potential food poisoning incidents. The Food Safety Information Council (FSIC) recommends trying to remember four simple rules - Clean, Cook, Chill and Separate.

Clean

Bacteria love to travel, and they will hitch a ride on anything - clothes, hair, kitchen utensils. The more bacteria there are, the more likely you are to get sick. Always:

  • Wash your hands with soapy water for more than 20 seconds
  • Wash and dry chopping boards, utensils and work surfaces that you have used to prepare food

Cook

Bacteria love raw meat and you need to make sure you cook it well to kill them. Some tips include:

  • Always cook chicken, boned meat, hamburgers, stuffed meat and sausages right through - no pink bits!
  • Defrost meat thoroughly before cooking
  • Always follow cooking instructions
  • Reheat leftovers to steaming hot, but never reheat food more than once
  • Never ever put cooked meat onto the plate that had the raw meat on it without washing and drying well first

Chill

The "danger zone" for food is between 5C and 60C. You need to check that your refrigerator is below 5C and always:

  • Keep all cooked food, vegetables, salads, meat and dairy in the fridge
  • Refrigerate hot food as soon as it stops steaming, don't leave it to cool for too long
  • Discard food that has been out of the fridge for more than 4 hours, eat or discard food that has been out of the fridge for between 2 and 4 hours
  • Make sure the fridge isn't too crowded (this includes beer and energy drink cans!) - the air won't circulate properly and your food may reach dangerous temperatures

Separate

Bacteria from raw meat can easily spread to other foods which can be extremely dangerous if these other foods will not be cooked in the future (such as salads):

  • Keep raw meat and poultry from touching other food
  • Keep raw meat and poultry at the bottom of the fridge - and, if possible, in sealed containers
  • Cover all stored food